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a magazine for video and filmmakers 



THE 




OR THE PEOPLE 
)o-Something Docs 
Big Bird and Beyond 
lew from Rooftop Films 
Making This Revolution 



A Publication of The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 

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Cover: Mehria Azizi filming Afghanistan Unveiled in Afghanistan's Kandahar province 
(Courtesy of Polly Hyman and the AINA Women's Filming Group/ITVS) 



www.aivf.org 



Upfront 



Features 



5 EDITOR'S LETTER 

6 CONTRIBUTORS 
9 NEWS 

Eyes on the Prize is slammed with copyright costs; 
The rebuilding of the DCTV/MNN studio; 
Bullets in the Hood; In Memory: Community 
Media Center director Dirk Koning 
By Rick Harrison 

14 OBITUARY 

Ossie Davis — fondly remembered for over 50 
years of filmmaking and social activism 
By Douglas Singleton 

16 PRODUCTION JOURNAL 

This Revolution: the making of an arresting film 
By Stephen Marshall 

21 Q/A 

Tamara E. RobinsomWNET's vice president 
and director of programming 
By Rebecca Carroll 

24 ON THE SCENE 

Journeys in Film fosters awareness and tolerance 
among children 

By Derek Loosvelt 

28 DOC DOCTOR 

Fitting films into pre-formatted public programs; 
how and when to create an outreach campaign 
By Fernanda Rossi 

30 POLICY 

The expense and complications of using 
copyrighted materials in a film 
Bv Matt Dunne 



32 BIG BIRD AND BEYOND 

Can public broadcasting fill the wasteland of 
commercial TV? 
By Amy Albo 

36 A FILM WITH A VIEW 

Independents take to the roof for a film festival 
By David Aim 

40 DO-SOMETHING DOCS 

Effecting change beyond affecting attitudes 
By Lisa Selin Davis 



Listings 

44 FESTIVALS 
49 CLASSIFIEDS 
53 NOTICES 
56 WORK WANTED 

62 SALONS 

63 THANKS 

64 THE LIST 



April 2005 I The Independent 3 



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Publisher: Bienvenida Matias 
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Editor-in-Chief: Rebecca Carroll 

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Assistant Editor: Rick Harrison 

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Designer: R. Benjamin Brown 

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Contributing Editors: 

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The IndependentwSSN 1077-8918) is published monthly (except 
combined issues January/February and July/August) by the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film (FIVF), a 501(c)(3) 
dedicated to the advancement of media arts and artists. 
Subscription to the magazine is included in annual membership 
dues ($70/yr individual, $40/yr student: $200/yr nonprofit/school: 
S200-700/yr business/industry) paid to the Association of 
Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF), the national profes- 
sional association of individuals involved in moving image media 
Library subscriptions are $75/yr Contact: AIVF, 304 Hudson St , 
6 fl„ New York, NY 10013, (212) 807-1400: fax: (2121 463-8519: 
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Periodical Postage paid at New York, New York 
and at additional mailing offices. 

Printed in the USA by Cadmus Specialty Publications 



_.- Publication of The Independent is made possible 
^^ in part with public funds from the New York State 
:: ..v.. Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the National 
Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. 

Publication of any ad in The Independent does not constitute an 
endorsement. AIVF/FIVF are not responsible for any claims made in 
an ad. All contents are copyright of the Foundation for Independent 
Video and Film, Inc. Reprints require written permission and acknowl- 
edgement of the article's previous appearance in The Independent 
The Independent is indexed in the Alternative Press Index and is a 
member of the Independent Press Association. 

AIVF/FIVF staff: Bienvenida Matias, executive director, 
Soma Malfa, program director; Priscilla Grim, membership director; 
Bo Mehrad, information services director; Greg Gilpatrick, 
technology consultant; Karen Odom, Joseph Trawick-Smith, interns, 
AIVF/FIVF legal counsel: Robert I. Freedman, Esq., Cowan, DeBaets, 
Abrahams & Sheppard. 

AIVF Board of Directors: Joel Bachar, Doug Hawes-Davis, Paula 
Manley (Secretary). Bienvenida Matias lex oficio), Michele Meek, 
Simon Tarr (Chair/Treasurer), Elizabeth Thompson (President), Bart 
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© Foundation for Independent Video & Film, Inc. 2004 
Visit The Independent online at: www.aivf.org 



4 The Independent I April 2005 




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CO 

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CD 

-a 

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EDITOR'S LETTER 

Dear Readers: 

The thing about media outreach is that 
while you are ostensibly trying to reach 
outward, invariably you end up pulling 
inward — to check yourself. How far am I 
willing to go? What are my real intentions? 
And are all those folks I'm trying to reach 
really worth it in the long run? Best case 
scenario is... what? I change the world? 
Does that really ever happen? Does it, 
whatever it is, really just start with one 
person? Each one, teach one kind of thing? 
Is this going to help with my karma? 

You're not alone — it's very human (and 
very smart) to check yourself when you're 
off doing good in the world. Altruism is 
not often suited to mere mortals. But if 
after you have checked yourself and the 
news comes back that your intentions are 
sound — then carry on, and carry on a lot. 
We need you. And we need programs like 
Journeys in Film, founded by Joanne 
Ashe — a nonprofit organization that inte- 
grates foreign films into social studies, 
geography, and art classes. Doesn't that 
seem like a no-brainer? And yet, Ashe's is 
the first and only organization of its kind. 

There is hope in public outreach and in 
trying to effect change and strengthen the 
collective character among your peers. 
That, I believe, was the original intent of 
PBS, which has both changed and stayed 
the same over the years. But even as arti- 
cles are written (thoughtfully so, by Amy 
Albo, page 32), and questions are asked 
(of WNET vice president and director of 
programming, Tamara Robinson, page 
21), I'm still not entirely sure what PBS is 
all about. And doesn't it also seem, in some 



ways, too good to be true? Is it possible 
that a national broadcasting network can 
exist solely for the purpose of educating 
people in a not-always-boring way and 
sustain itself solely through private dona- 
tions from rich people? In Albo's article, 
ITVS's Lois Vossen says of the widely 
viewed PBS "Independent Lens" series: 
"It's free to every American household and 
seen in a commercial-free environment. 
That is phenomenal in my opinion." And 
yes, it is, although somehow (and here 
visions of Barney and Elmo come to 
mind), it still feels commercial to me. It 
will be interesting to see the direction PBS 
takes (if a new direction is taken at all) 
after longtime PBS president Pat Mitchell 
steps down in 2006. 

At the local level, despite the ever-pres- 
ent cache that comes with "independent 
filmmaking" in New York, the young men 
of Rooftop Films in Brooklyn show indie 
films up on a roof without attitude or pre- 
tense (page 36). Rooftop, which started 
out in 1997 as a nonprofit film festival and 
production collective that screened films 
with a 16mm projector and chairs bor- 
rowed from a furniture company, now 
receives up to 2,000 film submissions a 
year. And that's just for the festival arm of 
Rooftop. They also now provide produc- 
tion grants, education initiatives, and trav- 
eling programs. 

Also in this issue: Lisa Selin Davis on 
documentaries that effect change, film- 
maker Stephen Marshall on the making of 
his latest film, This Revolution, and policy 
columnist Matt Dunne on the reality of 
clearing copyrighted material. 

Finally, we bid a sad farewell to Ossie 
Davis — the black king to Malcolm X's 
black prince, whom Davis so elegantly 
eulogized 40 years ago this past February. 
"Did you ever listen to him?" said Davis of 
Malcolm. "For if you did you would know 
him. And if you knew him you would 
know why we must honor him." Of Davis 
I say the same, with his deep and resonant 
voice forever fresh in my mind. 

Enjoy, and thanks for reading 
The Independent, 
Rebecca Carroll 



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April 2005 I The Independent 5 



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CONTRIE 




AMY ALBO 

is a freelance writer and editor living in 
Salt Lake City. She worked for the 
Sundance Film Festival and at the 
Institute's filmmaking labs for many 
years. She received her MA in nonfic- 
tion writing from The Johns Hopkins 
University and was an editor at The 
American Benefactor and Civilization 
magazines in New York. She enjoys 
watching "Postcards from Buster " with 
her two children. 



DAVID ALM 

teaches film history and writing at two 
colleges in Chicago. His writing has 
appeared in Artbyte, Camerawork, RES, 
Silicon Alley Reporter, SOMA, and The 
Utne Reader. He's also contributed to 
books on web design and digital film- 
making and assisted in making docu- 
mentaries about architecture and 
garbage. 



LISA SELIN DAVIS 

is the author of the novel, Belly, forth- 
coming from Little, Brown & Co., and 
a freelance writer in New York. 




MATT DUNNE 

is the Democratic state senator of 
Vermont, and founder of the Vermont 
Film Commission. Previously, he served 
two and a half years as National Director 
of AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in 
Service to America) and four terms as a 
Vermont state representative. 



RICK HARRISON 

is an assistant editor at The Independent. 
He has a master's degree in journalism 
from New York University and his work 
has appeared in Newsday, The Torward, 
The Daily News, Our Town and The 
West Side Spirit. His more mindless 
musings can be read at: 
www.rolling bones.blogspot.com. 



6 The Independent I April 2005 



UTORS 




DEREK LOOSVELT 

has written for publications including 
Brill's Content, Inside.com, and Blue mag- 
azine. A graduate of the University of 
Pennsylvania, Loosvelt expects to receive 
an MFA in creative writing from The 
New School in May 2005. He lives in 
Brooklyn. 




STEPHEN MARSHALL 

is an author and award-winning 
(Sundance, Chicago IFF) documentary 
filmmaker. As the co-founder of Guerrilla 
News Network (GNN.tv), he has direct- 
ed controversial music videos for Beastie 
Boys, Eminem, and 50 Cent. His first 
narrative feature, This Revolution, was an 
official selection at Sundance 2005. 



FERNANDA ROSSI 

is a filmmaker and script/documentary 
doctor. She also leads the nationwide 
Documentary Dialogues discussions 
offered by AIVF For more info, visit 
www.documentarydoctor.com. 




DOUGLAS SINGLETON 

writes film and theater criticism for The 
Brooklyn Rail and L Magazine. His web- 
site, www.dispactke.com, features pho- 
tography prose, and multi-media experi- 
mentation. He is a basketball fanatic. 



Correction 

-We regret a mistake in the profile of 
Marcelo Zarvos in the December 2004 
issue. Zarvos did not work as a piano 
player in the score for The Sting, but 
performed a piece from that score in 
his debut concert in Brazil. Also, he 
was 4 years old at the time, not 10. 




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April 2005 I The Independent 7 




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NEWS 



Eyes on the Prize 

The cost of repeating history 



By Rick Harrison 




The original six-part series includes footage of Rosa Parks — here being fingerprinted by 
Deputy Sheriff D.H. Lackey on Feb. 22, 1956 — who was among 100 people charged with vio- 
lating segregation laws (AP Photo/Gene Herrick) 



In 1955, African American Congress- 
man Charles Diggs from Detroit 
arrived in Mississippi to attend the trial 
of the two men responsible for the racial- 
ly-motivated murder of 15-year-old 
EmmettTill. Sheriff Clarence Strider and 
his deputies barred him from entering, 
and a black journalist tried to explain 
who Diggs was, only to be met by 
incredulity. "This nigger said there's a 
nigger outside who says he's a congress- 
man," one of the deputies said. To which 
another deputy replied, "A nigger 
congressman?" 

Yes, this was a very different country. 



Such scenes of history written with 
indelible images, sounds, and emotions 
comprise the 14 hours of the award-win- 
ning documentary Eyes on the Prize, the 
first six parts of which aired on PBS in 
1987. They are scenes that to a young 
audience might feel as though they were 
crafted for a science fiction film or an 
episode of "The Twilight Zone." But they 
are all too real and recently, all too in dan- 
ger of vanishing from sight because of the 
expense of renewing copyrighted material. 

Like so many documentary filmmak- 
ers, the producers at the Boston-based 
Blackside Inc., founded and led by Henry 



Hampton, had limited funds to secure 
the rights to the heap of archival footage, 
photographs, and music that defined the 
Civil Rights Movement. Most of the 
clearances expired five years after the 
film first aired on PBS. The first six parts 
last aired in 1994, and the eight-part 
sequel, Eyes on the Prize II: America at a 
Racial Crossroads (1965-1985) aired in 
1990. Henry Hampton died in 1998 
before he could renew the rights. 

Many of the songs sung in the film 
include new lyrics, requiring clearances 
for both the music and the lyricist — 
something not always easy to track down. 
According to Rena Kosersky, music 
researcher and rights coordinator for Eyes 
on the Prize II, to release the entire series 
today, some 180 songs need clearances. 

"You cannot separate the movement 
from the songs," Kosersky said. (Or sep- 
arate the song from the movement in the 
case of "We Shall Overcome," of which 
the writer's royalties go to a civil rights 
education fund.) And if a license can't be 
acquired because the song is in litigation, 
the owner can't be found, or it's too 
expensive? "We might have to take away 
that moment in history if we can't change 
it," she said. 

The tape collections at many schools 
and libraries have suffered losses and 
deterioration over time. With no means 
to replace them, the film is like an endan- 
gered species, and one integral to the 
depth and vigor of the nation's self- 
examination. So much so, that some peo- 
ple advocate the film's distribution no 
matter what. 



April 2005 I The Independent 9 



"This is analogous ro stopping the cir- 
culation of all the books about Martin 
Luther King, stopping the circulation of 
all the books about Malcolm X, stopping 
the circulation of books about the found- 
ing of America," said Lawrence Guyot, 
former leader of the Mississippi Freedom 
Democratic Party. "I would call upon 
everyone who has access to Eyes on the 
Prize to openly violate any and all laws 
regarding its showing." 

Guyot joined an effort by Downhill 
Battle, a Massachusetts-based activist 
group that organized over 100 screenings 
in 28 states in February to publicize the 
films plight and bring it once again to a 
mass audience. 

The group originally had secured a dig- 
ital copy of the film's first part for down- 
load on their website, but after lawyers 
representing Blackside contacted them to 
protest violation of their copyright, 
Downhill Battle removed the link. 
Although they clearly feel organizing the 
screenings falls well within the fair use 
provisions of copyright law. 

"We don't believe that it's civil disobedi- 



ence," said Nicholas Reville, co-director of 
Downhill Battle. "We think it's pretty well 
covered by fair use. I think that people 
should be compensated for their work, but 
we need to be thinking about the public; 
some things are just so important that we 
need to make it available." 

Sandy Forman, an attorney for 
Blackside, disagrees that Downhill 
Battle's efforts are helpful. "We appreciat- 
ed that they're interested in people seeing 
this project, but the way they're going 
about it is not right and it's illegal," she 
said. "Even if their motivation is a good 
one, they can't do this." 

Under a $65,000 Ford Foundation 
grant, Forman, along with four one-time 
Blackside producers (the company now 
belongs to Hampton's two sisters and is 
inactive) are studying the technical and 
copyright issues facing the film with the 
hope of determining how much money 
will be needed to return the film to the 
public access and educational markets. 
Estimates at the time of this writing reach 
to about $500,000. 

"We're very optimistic that this will be 



funded and back on the air next year," 
Forman said. And this time, she hopes all 
the rights can be granted in perpetuity. 

"I don't want to do this again," she said 
with a sigh. 

Some history is damn expensive to 
repeat. 

The recent plight of Eyes on the Prize 
and similar historically significant films has 
spurred Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of 
Louisiana and Congressman John Lewis of 
Georgia to explore legislation that might 
ease public access. 

The People's Studio 

Nobody in New York likes it when the 
city closes a firehouse. Mayors, firefight- 
ers, and neighborhoods spar over costs, 
response times, and diminishing returns. 
But whatever the detriment or virtue of 
shutting down a fire station, at least one 
of the city's greatest jewels continues to 
serve the community, now with a state- 
of-the-art public access TV studio. 

Just south of Canal Street, Downtown 
Community Television Center stands on 




1 • 









A«ANBC NEWS ARCHIVES 



30 ROCKEFELLER PLAZA, NEW YORK, NY 10112 
TELEPHONE: 212 664 3797 FAX: 212 703 8558 



10 The Independent I April 2005 



land that was at one time the putrid pit of 
animal and chemical waste known as 
Collect Pond and then, when filled in 
around 1812, developed into the putrid 
pit of downtrodden humanity known as 
Five Points. 

At 87 Lafayette St., the turrets and 
crested green copper roof of DCTV's 
headquarters makes the building look 
like a French chateau tucked inside mod- 
ern-day Chinatown. But the bright red 
garage doors give away the building's ori- 
gins as the home of Engine 31, residents 
there until a crack in the foundation 
forced them out in 1967. 

Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno, two doc- 
umentary fdmmakers who had been 
teaching free video production work- 
shops from their Canal Street loft since 
1972, moved DCTV to their current 
location in 1979. The city declared 
the building to be a landmark in 1989. 
And just this January, DCTV partnered 
with Manhattan Neighborhood Network 
to renovate and install a new digital 
television production studio and control 
room. 




MNN training with a community group, Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy 
Project, at the DCTV studio in downtown Manhattan (MNN) 



The studio features four remote cameras 
on the wood floor, one on the grid above 
and flexibility to plug in one or two hand- 
helds. Producers can construct a set or use 
the exposed slate walls. 

"I love the warmth," said Rick Jungers, 
director of MNN's community media 
department. "You can get a real nice look 



that doesn't look like a studio." 

From a TV-1 line to MNN's master 
control room at 59th Street, the studio can 
broadcast from the new site to anywhere 
in the world, either live to tape or provid- 
ing a live feed with the help of a rented 
satellite uplink. 

The control room features new moni- 




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A Guide to Making Your Documentary Fundraising Trailer 

Fernanda Rossi 

The Documentary Doctor 

In order to raise money to make a documentary, it is essential to 
produce a trailer that will capture the imagination and confidence 
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April 2005 I The Independent 11 



tors, a new audio mixing board, 
controls for the robotic cameras, and a 
phone system that can allow for live call- 
ins simultaneously on all four MNN 
channels. Content can be recorded to 
DVCAM, and an engineer can pull 
content off the web and convert it to a 
TV signal. 

Using some resources already at their community, something 
disposal, the rebuild cost $80,000 with Jungers distinguishes 
another $40,000 budgeted for this year. from the profit-oriented 
Jungers estimates that if they were to networks. 



month in camera work, 
editing, and produc- 
tion — for free. The only 
requirement is to be 
a Manhattan resident, 
satisfying the station's 
goal to make television 
more accessible to the 






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build the same studio from scratch it 
could cost around $350,000. 

"There are communities that make 
more with less, but we're right up there," 
Jungers said. "We're one of the flagship 
public access centers." 

MNN offers more original program- 
ming than any other public access chan- 
nel: between 14 and 18 hours a day, 
seven days a week, including over 800 
shows. The new studio, its third in 
Manhattan, will be available to MNN 
for 20 hours a week, while DCTV's 
instructional programs PRO-TV (for at- 
risk inner city youth) and ConnecTV 
(for people with disabilities) will use the 
remaining time. 

MNN trains about 35 people a 



COP 



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"When I see a net- 
work news van in my 
neighborhood, I get 

nervous," Jungers said. In early 2004, a friend of a teen in Brooklyn who was filming a doc- 
"Somebody died The umentary, was accidentally shot by a cop patrolling the area 

j. (DCTVNY) 

major media comes in 

and basically strip-mines us. There is bullet holes. 

more to a neighborhood than mayhem Terrence Fisher and Daniel Howard, 

and murder." two teens from Bedford Stuyvesant in 

And though it might not literally save New York City, won a Special Jury 

lives anymore, this firehouse can spread Award for Short Filmmakers for their 



short documentary Bullets in the Hood: A 
Bed Stuy Story, an examination of gun 
violence in their neighborhood that has 
killed 11 of their friends. 

But no amount of hard lessons in the 




Bullets in the Hood examines gun violence in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (DCTVNY) 



something other than water. 

Bullets in Park City 

Of all the success stories to arrive at 
this year's Sundance Film Festival in 
Park City, Utah, only one came exhibit- city's hard streets could prepare the film- 
ing the emotional scars of so many makers for the mountainous celebrity 

zoo that is Sundance. 

"We went snowboarding," said 
Howard, 18, in a phone call from Claflin 
University in South Carolina where he's 
studying media and TV production. 
"You don't go snowboarding in the ghet- 
to very often." 

In January 2004, Fisher, 19, and 
Howard were filming their 22-minute 
doc, sponsored by PRO-TV, a program 
through New York's nonprofit media 
organization Downtown Community 
Television Center, when Fisher's friend 
Timothy Stansbury was accidentally shot 
to death by a city police officer at 
a rooftop doorway. Fisher was directly 
behind Stansbury, who fell back on him 
and sent them both tumbling down the 
stairs. 

The already passionate film became an 
excruciating document of a neighbor- 
hood in turmoil, mourning yet another 



1? The Independent I April 2005 



senseless death and railing for a sense of 
justice when apologies aren't enough. 
The film shows the family's reaction 
after a grand jury did not indict the 
police officer, exonerating him of any 
purposeful wrongdoing. 

The emotions generated by this inti- 
mate portrait of helplessness, anger, fear, 
and pain translated even in Park City's 
upper altitudes and upper classes. 

"When we showed it at Sundance, 
people told us they were gonna throw 
away their guns," Howard said. "People 
broke down crying. It was really heart- 
warming. We were bringing our envi- 
ronment out there." 

Jasmine Chauca, 18, the film's editor, 
also attended the festival and recalled a 
pro-gun cab driver who told the film- 
makers that there wouldn't be a gun 
problem in Brooklyn if people would 
just be more careful with them. Chuaca 
hoped the movie might change that 
impression. 



"It opens up people to things they 
don't usually see and issues they don't 
usually think about," she said. "Just 
that we're opening people's eyes — that's 
the important part." 

Howard, Fisher, Chauca, cinematog- 
rapher/DP Michelle Watson, and their 
chaperones attended Sundance with the 
help of sponsors, watching a slew of 
new films and hobnobbing at exclusive 
parties, catching glimpses of folks like 
Ludacris and Snoop Dogg. 

And while the experience was fun 
and eye-opening for this year's youngest 
filmmakers, they are focused on the 
message and their futures. 

"We're just trying to show people the 
horrors of gun violence," Howard said. 
"If I'm young enough to get my film 
into Sundance, I'm also young enough 
to die on the street." 



In Memory: Dirk Koning 

We wish to mourn the death of Dirk 
Koning, whose amazing vision energized 
the community media and tech fields. He 
died on February 10, the result of a heart 
procedure gone wrong. Dirk Koning was 
the founding director of the Community 
Media Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan 
in 1981. The CMC is a national model for 
integrated radio, television, and internet 
applications for community development. 
Koning edited the national magazine, 
Community Media Revieiv and was presi- 
dent of the Washington D.C. -based 
Alliance for Communications Democracy. 
He consulted on facilities design, wireless 
networks, and fund development. He also 
wrote and spoke internationally on social 
applications of information technology. ~k 

Dirk Koning: A Life Beautifidly Lived: 
http:lldirkkoning blogspot. com 




April 2005 I The Independent 13 



In Memoriam: Ossie Davis 



By Douglas Singleton 

Ossie Davis died February 4 at 
age 87, after over half a century 
of making films. He was a 
revered stage and film actor, writer, pro- 
ducer, and director, but foremost, along 
with his lifelong companion and wife 
Ruby Dee, a relentless social activist. 

In 1976, Davis and Dee were 
approached by a very ambitious Delta 
Sigma Theta sorority, the largest African 
American women's organization in the 
United States, to make an independent 
feature film. Amidst the era's slew of 
"blaxploitation" films, the organization 
wanted to finance a movie reflecting their 
concern for moral and social values rather 
than what they felt were the typical nega- 
tive African American cultural chronicles 
of the day. And so they hunted down the 
couple, whose decades of experience in 
the film industry and history of social 
activism made them obvious choices for 
such a project. The result was Countdown 
at Kusini (1976), a thriller set in a myth- 
ical African nation that dramatized the 
need for solidarity amongst people of 
color across the globe. The film is note- 
worthy as the first American feature 
filmed entirely by an African American 
crew, financed by a private black organi- 
zation. In an interview in S. Torriano and 
Venise Berry's The 50 Most Influential 
Black Films, Davis said of Kusini, "the 
most important thing about the venture 
is the questions it poses and the lessons it 
teaches." 

The oldest of five children, Ossie 
Davis was born Raiford Chatman Davis 
in Cogdell, Georgia on December 18, 
1917. A county clerk misunderstood his 
mother's articulation of his initials "R.C." 
for "Ossie" — and the name stuck. The 
young Davis attended Howard 
University, studying English, but soon 
moved to New York City and joined 
Harlem's Rose McClendon Players. His 
Broadway debut was in the 1946 drama 
Jeb, playing the lead, a soldier returning 
from World War II doing battle with the 
Ku Klux Klan. It was one of many 
instances in which Davis chose roles of a 




complex nature rather than the usual 
stereotypes offered African American 
actors at the time. It was in this produc- 
tion that he met Ruby Dee, also making 
her Broadway debut. Though Jeb lasted 
only nine performances it produced a 
lifelong union — the pair were married in 
1948 and had three children, actor Guy 
Davis, Nora, and Hasna. Davis made his 
movie debut in the 1950 examination of 
racism, No Way Out, also the debut of star 
Sidney Poitier. In their joint autobiogra- 
phy, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life 
Together, the couple recalled lives 
immersed in New York City's artistic 
community, years of activism in the civil 
rights struggle, and vigorous opposition 
to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's Communist 
witch hunt. 

Ossie and Ruby helped organize the 
1963 civil rights March on Washington, 
serving as MCs of the event. Davis deliv- 
ered the eulogy at Dr. Martin Luther 
King Jr.'s funeral in 1968, as he had done 
so memorably at the funeral of Malcolm 
X in 1965: "Consigning these mortal 
remains to earth, the common mother of 
all, secure in the knowledge that what we 
place in the ground is no more now a 
man but a seed which, after the winter of 
our discontent, will come forth again to 
meet us." 

Davis was one of the first African 
American film directors of the modern 
era, directing the adaptation of Chester 
Himes's detective drama Cotton Comes to 
Harlem in 1970 and Kusini in 1976. He 
penned his first movie in 1963, Gone Are 
The Days'., which was an adaptation of his 
Broadway play Purlie Victorious, in which 



he starred with his wife. He continued to 
act on the stage after he had launched a 
screen career, performing in the stage ver- 
sion of A Raisin In The Sun in 1959, and 
the successful run of I'm Not Rappaport'm 
1986. Davis was inducted into the 
Theater Hall of Fame in 1994. 

He was the recipient of dozens of 
awards during his lifetime, including the 
NAACP Image Award in 1989, the US 
National Medal for the Arts in 1995, 
and, along with his wife, the Kennedy 
Center Honors in 2004. The book he 
wrote about the young Frederick 
Douglass, Escape To Freedom, was hon- 
ored by the American Library Association 
and received the Jane Addam's Children's 
Book Award. 

Later in life, Davis became known for 
his work with director Spike Lee in Do 
the Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever 
(1991), and Get On the Bus (1996), and 
reread parts of his Malcolm X eulogy at 
the close of Lee's Malcolm X (1992). A 
champion of independent film through- 
out his life, one of Davis's last films was 
the outrageous 2002 B-movie, Bubba 
Ho-Tep, in which he played an Africa 
American man in a retirement home with 
a very undead Elvis who claims to actual- 
ly be John F. Kennedy (something to do 
with the FBI and implanted "skin 
grafts"). 

Countdown at Kusini was yanked from 
theaters by distributors before it ever had 
a chance to have the effect Davis and the 
Delta sorority wanted. It lost money and 
nearly ruined the tenures of the sorority's 
leadership. But Davis nevertheless felt it 
was a historic venture because of the 
example it set as creative social activism. 
Unseen by anyone since its 1976 run of a 
few days, and seemingly lost to the annals 
of history, Davis hoped that someday the 
film would be rediscovered and given the 
due it was never allowed in its time. 

This spirit of dogged artistic resolve 
and social awareness characterized a life 
that stands as an example to all those 
aspiring to socially relevant art. He will 
be dearlv, dearlv missed, ir 



14 The Independent I April 2005 




was once a filmmaker named Pete*, 
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His mind fell apart, producing indie art and 
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uccino in hand, feet far from the beach's sand, 
Pete watched our skilled sleight of hand. 
n^^nYs said and done, Pete knew that he'd won 
is flick was creative and fresh and in demand! 

Film Producer, ... 



p: 2 1 2-366-SOI 1 

f: 2 12-989-5 195 

email: IMF-0@ROC3UEPOST.COM 



EMAIL: INPO@ROC3UEPOST.eC 

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film 



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*not his real name 



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PRODUCTION JOURNAL 



TJii& REVOLUTION 




By Stephen Marshall 

In June 2004, I watched Ted Demme's 
inspirational profile of 70s filmmak- 
ers, A Decade Under the Influence, 
which is basically a call-to-arms for indie 
auteurs to use whatever means they have 
at their disposal to make movies. 
Afterward, I just started riffing with a 
producer friend, Bob Jason, on how the 
time was ripe for a radically politicized 
homage to the Cassavetes era. Jason 
agreed, so I went full force and pitched 
him and his production company 
Co.Op, the concept of an updated hom- 
age to Haskell Wexler's cinema verite 
classic, Medium Cool. Set against the 
chaotic and hyper-militarized backdrop 
of the 1968 Democratic National 
Convention, Wexler's narrative effectively 
blurred the lines between reality and fic- 
tion, forcing viewers to question the 
responsibility media has to its audience 
and the society as a whole. For many 
American cinephiles, it is one of the most 
important films to emerge from that era. 
With the Republican National 
Convention coming to New York in less 
than 90 days, Jason cautioned that we'd 



probably have to shoot the narrative ele- 
ments after the protesters left the city. 
But I argued we would need the tension 
and drama of the approaching conven- 
tion to get the most out of our actors — 
especially ir we wanted to set the third act 
in the streets of Manhattan during the 
protests. Jason brought in his partner 
Bob Kravitz to vet the idea. Kravitz was 
skeptical, but he could see the value of a 
run-and-gun shoot that stole production 
values from what would potentially be 
the largest gathering of activists since the 
Vietnam War. "Get us a script that can 
attract some major talent, and we'll set 
you up for a mid-August shoot," he said. 
In three days I had a 10-page treat- 
ment. Two weeks later there was a first 
draft. Co.Op threw down the money for 
development, and I began working with 
Nathan Crooker, a young director and 
cinematographer who had just finished 
directing a series of commercials at the 
company. Despite the fact that Crooker 
had no feature-level acting experience, 
my gut instinct was to cast him in the 
lead role of Jake Cassavetes, the hot- 



blooded war shooter who returns from 
Iraq and is assigned by the network to get 
embedded with radical elements of the 
American political underground. I knew 
we would need to depend on Jake's RNC 
footage as much as our camera crew's, 
and so the actor needed to be able to 
shoot as well as any real cameraman. 

Once the third draft was completed, we 
sent it to Adrienne Stern to cast, and 
Crooker and I took off to Boston for the 
Democratic National Convention to 
shoot the opening credit sequence and do 
tests to see if Crooker could carry the part. 

When we got to Boston, we found a 
fortress city. The streets around the 
Convention Center were fenced off and 
surrounded by police officers, secret serv- 
ice agents, snipers, and heavily armed state 
troopers. Crooker and I spent four days 
embedded with the various anarchist col- 
lectives protesting the DNC, shooting 
footage from both Jake's and the narrative 
(third person) cameras. The opening 
scene of the film is shot from Jake's POV 
as he repeatedly asks a masked anarchist 
why they cover their faces. With each suc- 



16 The Independent I April 2005 



cessive question, the protester gets more 
annoyed, until he finally grabs Jake's cam- 
era and, looking directly into the lens, says 
"I know who you are, I know what you are 
doing, and I am going to smash your shit 
to the ground." 

Charles Maol is a dedicated activist 
whom I have known for many years. He 
agreed to act as the films protest coordi- 
nator at both the conventions as well as 
playing the part of this angry anarchist in 
the opening scene. But each time 
Crooker approached Maol with his cam- 
era to elicit the angered response, other 
activists in the crowd mistook it for a true 
confrontation and had to be restrained 
from attacking Crooker. This added an 
incredibly hot layer of tension to the 
scene, which we eventually pulled off on 
the third take. 

On the final day of the convention, just 
hours before the delegates would leave the 
city, a fight broke out between protesters 
and the Boston police. It came after a rash 
of arrests in the so-called "free speech pen" 
outside the Convention Center. The pro- 
testers began to link arms and surround a 
small unit of police officers. When the 
police began to push back, one kid 
grabbed the hat off a cop's head and the 
melee began. From the edge of the strug- 
gle, I kept my camera locked on Crooker, 
who had positioned himself directly in the 
middle of the fight. Despite being repeat- 
edly hit with billy clubs, he stuck with the 
action and shot what would become the 
action-packed opening credit sequence for 
This Revolution. 

Back in New York, with three weeks 
left before the proposed commencement 
of principal photography, we began to 
cast roles. Though we would be produc- 
ing the film on a shoestring budget, there 
was a lot of pressure to attract some name 
talent — especially if I wanted to give the 
lead role of Jake Cassavetes to Nathan 
Crooker. In less than two weeks we cast 
a majority of the parts, giving leads to 
Rosario Dawson, Amy Redford, and 
Brendan Sexton III. We also nailed down 
over 40 locations, many of which were 
attained at no cost. 

The basic story of This Revolution fol- 
lows Jake's journey from the corporatist 
realm of news media into a more radical- 
ized and underground political environ- 





April 2005 I The Independent 17 



t > 

NBPC 

National Black 
Programming Consortium 

Chisholm '72: 

Unb ought and 

Unbossed 

brother to brother 

A Place of Our Own 

FLAG WARS 

This Far By Faith 

A Huey P. Newton 
Story 


f \ 

FUNDING FILMMAKERS 

SINCE 1979 

The National Black 

Programming Consortium 

(NBPC) is devoted to the 

production, distribution 

and promotion of diverse 

film and videos about 

African Americans and 

the experiences of the 

African Diaspora. 

V J 


For more information ■ 

about: ,* 

•Grants | 

•Workshops ■ 

•Acquisitions 

•Distributions 

visit www.nbpc.tv 
or write to: 

NBPC 

68 East 131 st Street 

7th Floor 
New York, NY 10037 

212-234-8200 

info@nbpc.tv 

RFP Applications now 
available! 
1 Submission Deadline 
June 3, 2005 




DP Brian Jackson and camera crew after the arrest (photo courtesy of Stephen Marshall) 



ment when he discovers the network is 
giving his footage of anarchists to The 
Department of Homeland Security, Jake 
is forced to take sides and decide whether 
he should risk his social and financial 
security in order to take revenge against 
the system that has betrayed him. His 
moment of personal revolution is 
inspired by that of Rosario Dawson's 
character, Tina, who has chosen the radi- 
cal anarchist Black Bloc movement as a 
means of channeling her rage at the gov- 
ernment for taking her husband to his 
death in Iraq. 

The majority of the shoot took place 
in Manhattan's Lower East Side. During 
one very hectic day of shooting, Rosario 
remarked that we were moving at about 
four times the speed of a "normal" film 
schedule. Over a two-week period, we 
shot 12 days at an average of 18 hours a 
day. Because of the compressed schedule 
and pressure to move between locations, 
the actors often only had one or two 
takes to get a scene. 

Each morning, as the RNC 



approached, headlines in the New York 
papers grew ever more shrill and omi- 
nous. Threats of terrorist bombings and 
anarchist attacks on the city added a 
dimension of realism to the fictional con- 
struct that had been set against the immi- 
nent convention. On the first day of the 
RNC, we brought in Rosario, the four 
members of her Black Bloc "cell," and the 
rest of the crew to be briefed by Charles 
Maol. Though we had been given loose 
permits to shoot scenes of the Bloc in the 
actual protests, there was no guarantee 
that we could avoid tear gas, mass arrests, 
or even a potential Al Qaeda hit. So the 
group wrote the numbers of our lawyers 
on their forearms and equipped them- 
selves with gas masks in case of an attack. 
The most critical scene for us to shoot 
that day involved a chase sequence 
between Jake, the Black Bloc, and under- 
cover police officers dressed as protesters. 
We had to find a street that was not too 
hotly lit but which also had enough 
protest action to give a realistic backdrop 
to the scene. Adding to the circus-like 



18 The Independent I April 2005 





atmosphere of the shoot were crews from 
"Entertainment Tonight" and the New 
York Daily News, who had asked to tag 
along for the day. Try to imagine the 
scene: television crews following and 
shooting our crew who were following 
and shooting Jake who was following and 
shooting the fictional Black Bloc 
activists. 

As we made our way down one street 
toward the main march, we heard sirens 
and then saw a police van pull up on the 
sidewalk ahead of us. Seconds later, with 
all cameras rolling, six NYPD officers 
had surrounded the Black Bloc actors 
and pushed Rosario Dawson and Vija 
Brigita Grosgalvis onto the hood of a car. 
When they started to cuff them, Rosario 
protested and tried to pull her mask 
down to explain the situation. The officer 
slammed her back onto the car hood and 
placed steel handcuffs on her wrists. One 
woman who witnessed the entire scene 
broke into tears and began sobbing 
uncontrollably. 

Over the next five minutes, with our 



Nathan Crooker and Rosario Dawson review 
footage (photo courtesy of Stephen Marshall) 



entire crew, the news media and hun- 
dreds of onlookers milling around, I tried 
to present our permits to the arresting 
officer. Each time, he refused to look at 
the paper and pushed me back onto the 
sidewalk. Finally, as it became clear that 
Rosario and Vija were going to be arrest- 
ed for breaking the city's prohibition on 
wearing masks at protests, I demanded he 
look at the documents. With that, I was 
arrested for obstruction of justice and 
hauled into the back of the van with 
Rosario and Vija, both of whom had 
been unable to pull the black bandanas 
from their faces. 

During the next four hours, we were 
shuttled from the local precinct to the 
makeshift detention center at Pier 57. 
Separated by 15-foot-high fences rimmed 
with barbed wire, we waited for our files 
to be processed so we could be taken 
down to central booking. We were some 
of the first people to be arrested that 
day — eventually thousands more inno- 
cent, law-abiding citizens would pass 
through the facility — so we were handled 
relatively quickly. When I finally got into 
the cell downtown, I was able to call Lisa 
Hsu, the films producer. She explained 
that Brian Jackson, the film's brilliant 
DP, was out with the rest of the cast and 



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Jake shooting in Times Square 
(photo courtesy of Stephen Marshall) 

crew shooting as much of the third act as 
he could. Realizing that we would not be 
able to take Rosario back out into the 
protests after this fiasco, Lisa and I sat on 
the phone for an hour, re-writing the cli- 
max of the film. She had already seen 
footage of the arrest shot by Brian at the 
scene and felt it would be perfect for the 
film. It had given us a high-production 
value climax that we could never have 
planned for and created a more powerful 
consequence of the network's betrayal of 
Jake to Homeland Security, specifically 
the identification and arrest of Tina. 

That event changed the entire course of 
the film and ultimately became a pivotal 
moment in the story, providing us with a 
perfect alchemy of the documentary and 
narrative genres. Once principal photog- 
raphy was wrapped, we rushed into the 
edit and had our cut ready for the 
Sundance deadline (a week late, actually), 
completing the entire process, from con- 
ception to final cut, in 100 days. 

Though there were many compromises 
due to the speed and approach I took to 
the production, the main intention of 
making a film that quickly was in having 
a relevant social document that could 
reflect the social upheaval of our current 
era. So often this is left to the documen- 
tary genre, and we lose the more beautiful, 
tragic, and heroic elements that can be 
sheathed in a narrative structure. I hope 
that This Revolution can contribute to the 
legacy of verite filmmaking and honor the 
tradition established by artists like John 
Cassavetes and Haskell Wexler. 'k 



20 The Independent I April 2005 





Tamara E. 
Robinson 

vice president 
and director of 
programming at 

thirteen/wnet 

NEW YORK 



By Rebecca Carroll 

Rebecca Carroll: Where are we with 
public television? What do people — 
both those who are watching and not 
watching — need to know about public 
television now that's different from 10 
years ago? 

Tamara E. Robinson: Perhaps the most 
important thing to underscore is some- 
thing often taken for granted: Public tel- 
evision is free of charge, and available to 
all. We're a full-time provider of quality 
programming to a very diverse, very 
demanding population. We're also one of 
the country's most powerful and cost- 
effective educational forces. That hasn't 
changed. But the broadcast landscape 
has — dramatically. 

Ten years ago, there were three major 



networks, public television, and a hand- 
ful of cable alternatives. We're now oper- 
ating in a 500-channel universe, which 
means confronting and overcoming 
numerous challenges. We're more vulner- 
able than ever to the vicissitudes of the 
economy. Funding is a full-time effort. 
We're also working hard every day to take 
advantage of the latest technologies the 
market has to offer. Today, Thirteen/ 
WNET is expanding its service through a 
range of pioneering efforts — including its 
merger with its sister-station, WLIW21, 
and the inauguration of new digital and 
Video On Demand channels. In the end, 
it's all about better television. 

RC: What are some of the biggest 



misconceptions about public TV? 

TR: That public television is stodgy, 
old fashioned, hard to watch, not timely, 
not relevant, has no humor and is for 
women over 55. The reality could not be 
more different. Our viewers reflect our 
programs — they're interesting, they're 
curious, they're diverse. 

RC: What kind of cross-pollination 
occurs between public television and 
independent film? 

TR: There has always been cross-polli- 
nation between public television and 
independent film, and Thirteen/WNET 
continues to be a leader in this area. 
Thirteen/WNET was one of the first — if 
not the first — to provide a regular forum 



April 2005 I The Independent 21 




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tor independent film and producers, 
starting from the TV Lab, to becoming a 
founding partner of American 
Documentary Fund, which gave birth to 
P.O.V. Our portfolio includes: "Reel 
NY," "Cantos Latinos," "Due East," 
"Umoja!," and "Out!." As well as 
a plethora ot programming provided by 
independents as a part of our ongoing 
strands: "Great Performances," 

"American Masters," "Nature," "Wide 
Angle," and virtually all of our limited 
series, such as the recent Slavery and the 
Making of America, which the New York 
Daily News called "the most powerful and 
important television work on the subject 
since 'Roots' in 1977." 

Its worth noting that series producer 
Dante J. James is an independent film- 
maker currently pursuing a master's 
degree at Duke University while develop- 
ing new projects. Mr. James also pro- 
duced the Emmy-nominated Marian 
Anderson and Politics: The New Black 
Power, chosen by The New York Times as 
one of the best documentaries of 1990. 
We're proud of our association with inde- 
pendents like Mr. James. 

RC: And what are the differences 
between the two? I think some people 
feel as though public television is this 
sort of "other" entity, and because 
independent film has this hip cache, 
never the twain shall meet kind of 
thing. Your thoughts? 

TR: Most of the work on public tele- 
vision is produced by a diverse slate of 
independents, many of which have 
received the highest honors television has 
to offer. Public television, especially 
Thirteen/WNET, has always been fueled 
by the independent creative spirit, which 
we've nurtured since day one as the pre- 
senting station for such now famous doc- 
umentarians as Frederick Wiseman, Ken 



Burns, Ric Burns, Alan and Susan 
Raymond, Anne Makepeace, Sam 
Pollard, Mustapha Khan, Nam June Paik, 
and a host of others. 

RC. What is WNET's position on 
commercial advertising? Both as a sta- 
tion model and as a station that needs 
to maintain and grow itself? 

TR: It's simple: We do not take com- 
mercial advertising. We are a private, 
nonprofit corporation. As such, Thirteen 
members remain our most reliable source 
of financial support. This keeps us unen- 
cumbered and beholden to no one and 
helps us provide a positive, non-cluttered 
environment for our viewers. At the same 
time, dedicated philanthropic organiza- 
tions and private corporations have long 
been a vital source of general operating 
support for Thirteen. 

RC: How can independent filmmak- 
ers get involved with public television? 

TR: Independents are an integral part 
of Thirteen and we are always in the mar- 
ket for challenging ideas and new pro- 
posals from a tresh pool of creative talent. 
Anyone can pitch ideas to any public tel- 
evision station like Thirteen, which 
accepts treatments, full-length proposals, 
and completed programs for evaluation. 
Or, filmmakers can send in a letter of 
inquiry to see if there is possible interest 
before sending in full-length materials. 

RC: Are you constantly aware of the 
moral high ground public television 
represents? Or is assigned? And is it 
fairly assigned as such? 

TR: Our mission statement is pretty 
clear: "Through its productions, broad- 
casts, and educational outreach activities, 
Thirteen/WNET New York pursues a 
single, overarching goal: to create televi- 
sion and interactive media experiences of 



22 The Independent I April 2005 



lasting significance for all segments of the 
population — in the New York metropol- 
itan area, across America, and world- 
wide." We are very mindful of this and 
would never to anything to jeopardize the 
public's trust. 

RC: What are some of the program- 
ming choices that you would never 
make for WNET? And why? 

TR: We would never produce pro- 
gramming that would intentionally mis- 
lead or provide false information to the 
viewer. We take very seriously our duties 
as broadcaster, educator, and benefactor. 
Programs like "NOW With David 
Brancaccio" and "'The Wall Street Journal 
Report" offer viewers forums for explor- 
ing, understanding, and debating the 
most important issues of the day. 

RC: Who are the forgotten heroes of 
public television? Of public television 
as a concept, a medium, an art form, 
and as something to be protected and 
revered? 

TR: Hartford Gunn, first president of 
PBS, who set the vision; Samuel CO. 
Holt, first head of programming, who set 
the standard for quality and intelligent 
programming; Robert A. Mott, first head 
of station relations for PBS, who under- 
stood what a membership means, how it 
works and how a national organization 
needs to be accountable; and John Macy, 
first head of the Corporation for Public 
Broadcasting. These people and countless 
others understood that the "S" in PBS 
really did mean service and each day they 
demonstrated that in every aspect of their 
work. Now, it's our responsibility to carry 
those principles forward, to continue ask- 
ing the big questions, and to rededicate 
ourselves to the longstanding tradition of 
making uncommonly fine TV. -k 



Support 

the organization that 
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Since 1973, the Association of Independent Video 

and Filmmakers has worked tirelessly to support 
independent vision. Our achievements have preserved 
opportunities for producers working outside the mainstream. 

For just $70/yr. add your voice to ours, and let's see what 
we can do together. 

visit us at www.aivf.org 

or call 212/807-1400 

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April 2005 I The Independent 23 



ON THE SCENE 



Journeys in Film: A Children's Program 



Foreign films foster 
awareness and 
tolerance 



By Derek Loosvelt 

Inside Manhattan's City Hall Academy 
on a dark and wet Friday morning this 
past February, actor Liam Neeson 
introduced some 35 New York City pub- 
lic school teachers to Journeys in Film, a 
nonprofit educational program using fea- 
ture-length foreign films such as Whale 
Rider, Bend it Like Beckham, and The 
Cup as a springboard to instill 
cultural awareness and tolerance among 
middle school students. Neeson, national 
spokesman for Journeys, stressed the 
importance of creating global citizens 
and said he was honored to be in a room 
full of teachers, explaining that he comes 
from a family of teachers himself and 
highly respects the profession. Neeson 
ended his brief introduction by telling 
the teachers their work is vital to the 
long-term well being of the United 
States. "For the next generation," he said, 
"knowledge of the world is no longer a 
luxury, it's a necessity." 

Neeson's appearance was followed by a 
Journeys in Film workshop — a profes- 
sional development seminar for teachers 
sponsored by the New York City Board 
of Education — that included sample les- 
son plans and a screening of Children of 
Heaven, another film used in Journeys 
curriculum. 

Journeys, which was officially unveiled 
to more than 4,500 students in seven 
cities in 2004 and could reach as many as 
50,000 students in the 2005-2006 school 
year, is the creation of Joanne Ashe, 
whose background certainly informs the 
program. The daughter of Polish immi- 
grants, Ashe grew up in the late 1950s 
and 1960s in Beverly, Massachusetts, 
among families of numerous ethnicities. 




James McDaniel and The Lady Warriors in Edge of America, slated for next year 
(Fred Hayes/Showtime) 



She holds a master's degree in humanistic 
education and has curated art exhibits on 
racism as well as children's mental health 
issues. She's also the mother of two 
daughters and an adopted son, who is 
originally from Siberia. That experience 
prompted Ashe to work for an interna- 
tional adoption agency and, later, to co- 
produce The Waiting Children, a short 
documentary taking viewers inside 
Russian orphanages that appeared at the 
1998 Sundance Film Festival. 

Ashe, who serves as Journeys executive 
director, says the idea to teach children 
through film came to her during the 
2001 Palm Springs International Film 
Festival, held a few months after 9/1 1 . At 
the festival, Ashe saw nine films, two of 
which, she says, "stood out and got me 
thinking." One, Abandoned (2001), writ- 
ten and directed by Hungarian-born 
Arpad Sopsits, follows a young boy 
thrown into an orphanage even though 
his parents are still alive. The second, 
Baran (2001), written and directed by 
Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi, focuses 
on an unlikely relationship in Tehran 
between a 17-vear-old Kurdish worker 



and a young Afghan with a secret. "After 
that film," Ashe says, "while the credits 
were still rolling, I came up with the 
idea." 

Originally, Ashe thought the project, 
which today involves in-class screenings 
as well as pre- and post-screening discus- 
sions and related lessons and assign- 
ments, would be geared towards high 
school students and focus on human 
rights issues. "In order to reach the mass- 
es," she says, "I knew early on I had to 
take the project to schools, rather than 
theaters." She also figured kids wouldn't 
care as much about a human rights issue 
unless they were familiar with the culture 
in which it was based. So she thought to 
take the program to middle schools and 
center it on connecting to characters and 
story, which she hoped would lead to cul- 
tural understanding. Ashe then decided 
to combine the program with geography, 
history, and social studies lessons. "It was 
a way to get into schools," she says. It 
couldn't be arts-based, because arts fund- 
ing was being cut." 

While the idea began to grow, Ashe 
met Neeson in a bar in New York. Two of 



24 The Independent I April 2005 



her daughter's friends were appearing them the same question, they said it 

with him in a Broadway production of would be 'cool.' It went from weird to 

The Crucible, and at an after-party, Ashe cool. And that was our data." Additional 

was introduced to the actor and thanked data came a few weeks later when Ashe 

him for his moving portrayal of Oskar heard that many kids had asked their 

Schindler in Schindler's List. Ashe's teachers if a Tibetan exchange student 

parents are Holocaust survivors, and her could come to their school, 
father worked in Schindler's factory. "That In 2003 and 2004, while searching for 

film validated my parents' lives," Ashe says. other middle school-appropriate films 

"Until then, survivors had largely been for- with which to rollout the project on a 

gotten." After Ashe told Neeson all this, he wider scale, Ashe focused on creating 

said, "God bless you. And God bless your alliances and landing funding. As a result, 

father. Tell me about him." she discovered Building Bridges: A Peace 

She did, and then told Neeson about Corps Classroom Guide to Cross- 

her idea lor Journeys. "I just let it out," she Cultural Understanding, an online 

says, "and right away he said, 'How resource that teaches students about the 

can help you?'" On the spot, Ashe asked universal aspects of culture and the ways 

Neeson if he'd be her national spokesper- in which it influences behavior. Ashe 

son, and he agreed. "It was still an idea thought Building Bridges would comple- 



then," she says, "but that got me focused. 

The first Journeys 
screening occurred in 2003 
in Albuquerque, New 
Mexico, at a theater not far 
from where Ashe lives and 
bases Journeys. (For logisti- 
cal reasons, screenings are 
now held in classrooms.) 
About 250 kids from five 
schools watched The Cup 
(1999), a film about two 
young Tibetan refugees 
who, along with several 
teenage monks, are trans- 
formed during the broad- 
cast of soccer's World Cup. 
Ashe hoped the kids 
watching would be transformed, too. 

The outcome didn't disappoint. "At 
the end of the film the kids were clap- 
ping," Ashe says. "And during the Q&A, 
they were jumping out of their seats to 
ask questions." Before the film rolled, 
kids were asked to look out for stereotyp- 



ment Journeys and today, the curriculum 




Whale Rider is one of the films that Journeys uses to instill 
cultural awareness in kids (South Pacific Pictures) 



includes it. The Peace Corps' Donna 
Molinari, who works alongside Ashe, 
praises the program. "I know of no other 
organization that approaches cross-cul- 
tural understanding in such a meaningful 
and effective way," she says of Journeys. 
"Films are meticulously screened for 
ing, various cultural objects, and the dif- content as well as screenwriting quality, 
ferent ways in which food is prepared and and students are drawn in by seeing their 
people greet each other — all of which is own likeness on screen — but in a 
standard procedure in Journeys' lesson far away place." 

plans. Kids were also asked what they'd Ashe also formed an advisory board, 

think if they were to meet a Tibetan boy which includes actor, director, and writer 
who wore an orange robe with a sash. Harold Ramis; Alan Dershowitz, a 
"Most thought it would be 'weird,'" says prominent law professor at Harvard 
Ashe. "But after the film, when we asked University; and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a 



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Seung-Ho Yoo (foreground) and Eul-Boon Kim star in Jeong-Hyang Lee's film The Way Home, 
which will be part of the 2005 Journeys in Film curriculum (Mi-Jin Han/Paramount Classics) 



professor and chair of The African and 
African American Studies Department, 
also at Harvard. Ashe says, "I wanted to 
get the blessing of the film industry and 
the heavy hitters in the academic world 
and connect them together." Ramis, a 
Chicago resident and friend of Ashe's prior 
to joining the Journeys board, connected 
her with the CEO of Chicago Public 
Schools Arne Duncan, who was instru- 
mental in bringing Journeys to his city. 

As for funding, actress Shirley 
MacLaine, the former chairperson of the 
New Mexico Film Office's Film Advisory 
Board, heard about Journeys, loved the 
idea, and took it to an anonymous 
Hollywood philanthropist who wrote 
Ashe a generous check. Soon after, Ashe 
hired cross-cultural communications spe- 
cialist Anna Mara Rutins and filmmaker 
Ethan Silverman to help out. Silverman, 
who wrote and directed The Waiting 
Children (the film Ashe co-produced), 
writes Journeys's lesson plans specific to 
teaching film as literature. "For exam- 
ple," Ashe says, "with Children in 
Heaven, we show students how to look at 
the structure of the film through a pair of 
shoes. We also teach them what to look 
for in a film, such as the use of different 
camera angles, and about perspective in 
film." Ashe explains that the lesson plan 
for The Cup includes asking kids what 
monks playing soccer with a coke can 



says about the West's influence on the 
Tibetan culture. "So kids are also learning 
about their own culture too," she says. 

In September 2004, Journeys's pilot 
program began in Chicago, Tulsa, Seattle, 
Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Toronto, and 
New York. Support has come from pro- 
duction companies such as DreamWorks 
and Miramax, which donated DVDs of 
its films to be used in classrooms, as well 
as from corporate sponsors, including 
Continental Airlines, Liberty Group 
Publishing, and Ameritest. So far, Ashe 
says Journeys hasn't run into any major 
obstacles, and teachers couldn't be more 
pleased. 

"The opportunity to invite students to 
look at a problem from the viewpoint of 
another culture is remarkable," says 
Georgia Piechpander, a teacher in 
Chicago. Students at her school were 
"spellbound with The Cup" she says. 
"They laughed in all the right spots and 
really related to the little wheeler-and- 
dealer' character." She adds that the sub- 
titles kept students engaged throughout, 
rather than turn them off, and many kids 
expressed an interest in the Dalai Lama, 
so some classes did extra research. 

Meg Venckus, another Chicago 
teacher, recently showed her students 
Children of Heaven (which, like Baran, 
one of Ashe's inspirations for Journeys, 
was written and directed by Majid 



26 The Independent I April 2005 



Majidi). "A few kids actually cried when riculum. But due to its mature subject 
Ali told Zohre he'd lost her shoes," says matter — the film focuses on two Kurdish 
Venckus, who adds that as a result of the teenagers living in a refugee camp in Iraq 
film, her students "gained a better feel for near the Turkish border on the eve of the 
the land, customs, and people of Iran than American invasion — she admits it would 
any chapter unit could ever provide." have to be included in a future series for 

Bradley Goodman, who teaches fifth high school, not middle school students, 
and sixth graders at New 
York's East Village 
Community School, has 
held viewings of both The 
Cup and Children of 
Heaven. "The kids 
enjoyed The Cup," he says, 
"but they loved, and were 
very moved by Children of 
Heaven. They were 
amazed at how important 
an old and very un-cool 
pair of shoes were to the 
kids in the film." 
Goodman explains that 
his students often obsess 
over their expensive sneak- 
ers and says they were also 
surprised that the Iranian 
family in the film had 
such a beautiful house 
with a courtyard and 
fountain, even though 

they were clearly poor. "It's just fascinat- "Eventually, we would like to have a 
ing to see them making connections and series on films with strong messages that 
realizing the differences in priorities in bring issues to the forefront," she says, 
other cultures," Goodman says. echoing her original idea for the pro- 
"Although my students live in New gram. "Journeys was developed to teach 
York, their own worlds are actually kids about other cultures, rather than 
rather small. Watching and discussing issues, but that will come." ~k 
films from other countries and cultures 




(L-R) Journeys founder Joanne Ashe, director of City Hall 
Academy Anna Commitante, spokesman/actor Liam Neeson, 
and Donna Molinari of US Peace Corps World Wise Schools 
(Dunkelman Mollin) 



has been enlightening for them, priming 
them to think on a global level." 
Goodman partially attributes the 
Journeys curriculum for inspiring his 
students to initiate an in-class project 
that involves raising money for a school 
in Sudan. 

Along with affecting participating stu- 
dents, Journeys has provided an addition- 
al outlet for filmmakers. Ashe says sever- 
al filmmakers have asked her to look at 
their films, and one, Iranian filmmaker 
Bahman Ghobadi, expressed hopes that 
Ashe would bring Journeys to Iraqi 
school children. Ashe, in turn, would like 
to use one of Ghobadis films, Turtles 
Can Fly (2004), as part of Journeys' cur- 



More' information is available at 
www.journeysinfilm. org 




Neeson speaking at the workshop at the City 
Hall Academy (Dunkelman Mollin) 



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April 2005 I The Independent 27 




A C 

the Documentary Doctor 




Fernanda Rossi 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

My film projects and ideas are well-suit- 
ed for public television. But as an inde- 
pendent filmmaker I can't envision my 
work fitting into pre-formatted programs. 
Do I have any options besides just selling a 
finished film? 

To work for or work with — to give up cre- 
ative control for the safety of a check, or brave 
financial storms and sell the film when it's fin- 
ished. With LInCs (Local Independents 
Collaborating with Stations), a funding initia- 
tive from ITVS, you can have your cake and 
eat it too. (And with 346 stations nationwide, 
there is a lot of cake to chose from.) LInCS 
offers matching funds — you bring the idea or 
work-in-progress and the local station of your 
choice offers in-kind services, such as equip- 
ment, publicity, or any number of things you 
might need. 

The first step is to identify the aspects of 
your project or idea that might appeal to a 
specific region of the country. Visit 
www.pbs.org/stationfinder and enter a state 
or zip code, which will direct you to the web- 
sites of PBS affiliate stations where you can 
learn more about their programming and 
interests. Even if the station is not directly 
affected by the topic of your film, they might 
be supportive of the cause. So don't give up 



too easily, and don't limit your search to the 
obvious geographical matches. Then you can 
start calling stations to evaluate if there is 
potential and interest in a mutually beneficial 
partnership. Tips on how to approach a sta- 
tion and build partnerships can be found at 
www.itvs.org/producers/funding.html. 

Elizabeth Meyer, programming manager 
for the LInCS and special projects at ITVS 
presents this partnership as the ideal win-win 
situation: "We want to see independent film- 
makers bring their unique vision into the PBS 
world, while at the same time helping local 
PBS stations fulfill their mission." That means 
your creative integrity is safe! 

Don't fear that your film will have a short 
life within the borders of only one state. 
Robby Fahey, LInCS production manager, 
explains, "Many LInCS projects are on a local 
or regional topic that is of interest to a partic- 
ular station, but the goal is to make these 
shows available at the national level. The 
involvement of the station gives the project 
credibility and gives the independent film- 
maker an entre into the PBS system." 

Keeping your independent voice while 
partnering with professionals, and at the same 
time getting a funding and broadcast deal? 
Maybe Santa Claus exists after all. 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

How can I tell if my film has potential 
for a successful outreach campaign and if it 
is worth the sweat? 

Nowadays, with the abundance of 
resources on the internet and the convenience 
of email communication, outreach campaigns 
require a lot less money, time, and sweat than 
they used to. Still, it's wise to figure out if 
grassroots efforts are for you and your film. 

For some filmmakers outreach is not an 
afterthought. Award-winning producer and 
director Catherine Gund, producer of A 
Touch of Greatness (2004, directed by Leslie 
Sullivan) says: "I become interested in a doc- 
umentary subject because of the outreach and 
community organizing potential. I wouldn't 
begin to make a film that couldn't be used 
directly by a targeted audience. With A Touch 
of Greatness, a portrait of a very progressive 
and inspiring teacher, we knew that we had 
the entire community of educators to work 
with. In fact, we didn't wait to have a finished 
film to reach out to them and collaborate." 

In general, the making of the film itself will 
lead you to the organizations dealing with your 
topic. But, if for some odd reason this hasn't 
happened, it's not too late to take action. You 
will have to hurry though; developing relation- 
ships with nonprofits that have access to 



28 The Independent I April 2005 



prospective targeted audiences takes time. 

After an inventory of the obvious — as well 
as the more subtle angles — of your film, 
whether finished or not, the next obligatory 
step is to get familiar with the resources offered 
by mediarights.org, workingfilms.org, and 
centerforsocialmedia.org. They have plenty of 
information on how to develop an outreach 
campaign and function as a bridge between 
filmmakers and nonprofits seeking media. 

You might also want to do a search for arti- 
cles in newspapers and journals covering your 
film's issues. It will give you a sense of the talk 
around town, and if there is an aspect of your 
film that is particularly current: a bill due in 
Congress or a recent case that further proves 
the point of your documentary. Finally, check 
in with universities — academics are at the fore- 
front of research on many social issues and top- 
ics, and their students are an eager audience. 

Based on the responses you get from this 
research, you can gauge the outreach viability 
of your project. However, I strongly believe 
that there is always an audience and a way to 
reach it. Whichever path you choose for your 
film, remember poet Antonio Machado's 
words: "Traveller, there is no road, you make 
the road as you go." "& 




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April 2005 I The Independent 29 



POLICY 



The Cost of Clearance 

The expense and complications of using copyrighted materials 



By Matt Dunne 

It may not be what you remember 
about the award-winning documen- 
tary Hoop Dreams, but a scene in 
which a family sings "Happy Birthday" 
to their son turned out to be a major 
headache for the filmmakers, Steve James 
and Frederick Marx. Including the song 
cost them $15,000 to $20,000 for a 
single verse. 

It's a reality faced by every documen- 
tary filmmaker on a shoestring budget — 
the increasing costs for rights clearance. 
Buying the rights to use historical film 
footage or to include a subject singing 
standards like "God Bless America" and 
"Happy Birthday" can cost big money. 
Beyond the monetary cost, however, 
there's the time cost of completing exten- 
sive paperwork, tracking down the owner 
of an image or piece of footage, and try- 
ing to get him or her to return your 
phone call. 

One cautionary tale for filmmakers is 
what happened with Eyes on the Prize, 
the well-known 14-part series about the 
civil rights movement that debuted on 
public television in 1987. Because the 
clearance rights to archival footage used 
in the film expired, Eyes on the Prize can- 
not be shown on television or released on 
DVD until the rights are cleared again, 
[see News, page 9] 

A new report by Patricia Aufderheide 
and Peter Jaszi, both from American 
University, details the scope of the prob- 
lem. "Untold Stories: Creative 
Consequences of the Rights Clearance 
Culture for Documentary Filmmakers" 
provides a host of nightmarish case stud- 
ies. Gordon Quinn, a founder of 
Kartemquin Films, recently saw his 
budget grow by $100,000 due to copy- 
right clearance issues. When Jonathan 
Caouette made a film about his dysfunc- 
tional family for an estimated $218, he 




Hoop Dreams filmmakers (l-r) Steve James, Peter Gilbert, and Frederick Marx had to pay over 
SI 5,000 to use a single verse of a copyrighted song in their film (Fine Line Features) 



was shocked to see the film's budget sky- 
rocket to $400,000 after he had cleared 
all necessary copyrights. 

The concept of copyrighting creative 
work has a long and complicated history. 
The first copyright laws were created in 
early 18th century England at the urging 
of the established printer/publishers of 
the time who wanted to put a stop to the 
upstart printers outside of London. Legal 
folklore suggests that in order to put a 
good face on the lobbying effort, the 
advocates invoked the interest of the 
authors, avoiding the fact that the pub- 
lishers typically did not pay royalties to 
the original creator. In later years, courts 
leaned toward protection of the creator, 
but there continues to be uncertainty 
about whether copyright laws exist to 
protect the intellectual property of indi- 
vidual artists or the corporate interests of 
companies like Disney. 

But over the last 20 years, starting with 
the consolidation of image libraries and 
furthered by the profit potential of mass 



production, the pendulum has swung 
back toward corporate interests. Disney 
successfully lobbied Congress to increase 
the period of years before copyrighted 
material enters the public domain by 20 
years (from the life of the author plus 50 
years to the life of the author plus 70 years 
for individual works or 75 to 95 years in 
the case of works of corporate authorship 
or those published before 1978). Now 
other copyright holders are shortening 
terms of licenses for filmmakers. 

While many filmmakers are willing to 
take risks on using images that simply 
appear in the background of their works, 
their distributors and producers are not. 
High profile cases involving sampling by 
musical artists have made these gatekeep- 
ers — and their insurance companies — 
understandably nervous. This nervous- 
ness has led to requests for proof of copy- 
right clearance in films that would have 
attracted little attention 10 years ago. 

Aufderheide and Jaszi's study rein- 
forces the sense in the indie community 



30 The Independent I April 2005 



that the problem has reached a crisis 
point. 

Documentary filmmakers talked about 
abandoning projects because of cost or 
self-censoring material. In some cases 60 
percent of entire budgets are going to 
purchase clearance rights. Other film- 
makers go through elaborate efforts to 
avoid the need to acquire rights, includ- 
ing turning off televisions in scenes where 
loud background programming would 
more truthfully reflect the reality. 

The study also finds that the clearance 
climate is so confusing that gatekeepers 
go overboard in insisting on clearances 
that may not be necessary and should 
actually fit under the so-called fair use 
protections allowable when, as Jaszi puts 
it, "the public cultural benefits of the use 
outweigh the private economic costs it 
may impose." Fear of the unknown may 
be as damaging as the cost of clearances 
actually required under the law. 

All in all, it's a pretty grim picture, say 
independent filmmakers. Auferheide and 
Jaszi quote public television veteran pro- 
ducer Danny Anker: "I have watched 
over the years as these prices have sky- 
rocketed, in particular, for newsreel 
footage, and how these little archive 
houses that used to work very closely 
with filmmakers were gobbled up by big- 
ger companies." 

Clearly, a solution to this murky legal 
limbo is needed. 

Some in the film legal community, 
including Duke University Law Professor 
David Lange, have called for Congress to 
pass a law creating a special category for 
documentary filmmakers under the fed- 
eral copyright law. The argument is that 
documentaries represent a special type of 
creative production, one that provides an 
important public service, as opposed to 
mere entertainment. But even if there 
were a way to allow documentarians to 
protect their own creations while being 
exempt from the copyright protections 
extended to other artists, it would be a 
tough sell. One can only imagine certain 
members of Congress referring to this 
type of legislation as "The Michael 
Moore Protection Act." 



A second option would be to force a 
legal test case to define the appropriate 
limits of fair use in a court of law. As 
tempting as a high profile legal battle 
may be to some artists, Aufderheide and 
Jaszi argue that the approach is probably 
too risky and could lead to the documen- 
tary film community being outgunned 
by hotshot Hollywood legal teams. 

A third option, and the one recom- 
mended in the report, is to create a pub- 
lished industry standard for appropriate 
fair use in documentaries and then ask 
filmmakers to start following those prac- 
tices in a disciplined way. Once the stan- 
dards of practice are created, associations 
could formally adopt these practices and 
participate in educational outreach to 
ensure adherence. In the authors' opin- 
ion, this would create a status quo that 
will ease gatekeepers' anxieties and deter 
lawsuits against filmmakers who agree to 
follow the new rules. 

Of course, independent filmmakers 
have a unique perspective on all this. The 
artists who participated in Aufderheide 
and Jaszi's study said they were funda- 
mentally conflicted around copyright. 
Aufderheide summarized in a recent 
interview, "What we heard from film- 
makers is 'I love my copyright and copy- 
right is crippling my work.'" 

So Aufderheide and Jaszi argue that 
filmmakers are the best people to deliber- 
ate and create the new standards. 
"Documentary filmmakers who are sur- 
viving in the commercial [world] are not 
wild-eyed radicals," Jaszi said. "They are 
uniquely qualified to produce a consen- 
sus document that is useful because they 
see both sides: the creator and the con- 
sumer of copywritten material." 

The approach has precedent. In the 
early 1990s, media academics began hav- 
ing similar difficulties getting books pub- 
lished that included stills from films ref- 
erenced in their research. Clearance 
efforts were incredibly difficult and the 
purchase price of rights often prohibitive. 
But publishers balked at going ahead 
without comprehensive clearances. In 
response, a commission of film academics 
wrote a paper outlining appropriate fair 



use in an academic context and distrib- 
uted it to publishers. With the document 
in hand, publishers went ahead and pro- 
duced the books. According to Jaszi, no 
one ever sued. 

Unfortunately, the recent critical and 
commercial successes of documentary 
films might actually make this approach 
more challenging. Ten years ago, 
Hollywood might have put the docu- 
mentary film industry in the same cate- 
gory as academic publishing. But the 
financial success of films such as Winged 
Migration and Fahrenheit 9/1 1 may have 
the owners of relevant licenses dreaming 
of dollar signs now. 

Jaszi points out, though, that there 
have been no lawsuits to date over the use 
of an otherwise licensed image or piece of 
music in a documentary film. Part of this 
might be the result of overprotective 
gatekeepers limiting exposure, but the 
authors think it might be a similar fear by 
the license holders that a court might rule 
in a way that would broaden the defini- 
tion of fair use and threaten future prof- 
its. As an example, Robert Greenwald 
was denied the rights to use talk show 
footage from Fox for his film Outfoxed: 
Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism. He 
went ahead and used the footage and 
although he did prepare extensively for a 
legal battle, Fox let it slide. 

Aufderheide and Jaszi are spending the 
next six months convening groups of 
documentary filmmakers to establish a 
set of standards. They are starting with 
creating a clearinghouse of best practices 
for applying fair use and will initiate a 
dialogue that encourages filmmakers to 
look at copyright from both perspectives 
and grapple with the complexities of 
creating specific protocols. The first 
example of this effort is a "frequently 
asked questions" resource that can be 
found at http://centerforsocialmedia.org. 
All documentary filmmakers interested 
in participating in this process are 
encouraged to contact the center to get 
involved. The active participation by 
documentary filmmakers may be the 
only way to bring sanity and balance to 
the clearance process. $r 



April 2005 I The Independent 31 




Big Bird and Beyond 

IS PUBLIC BROADCASTING FILLING THE WASTELAND OF COMMERCIAL TV? 



BY AMY ALBO 



Lois Vossen thinks she has the best job in the world. She 
works 60 hours a week, and much of her time is spent 
thinking about or watching films about some of the most 
deeply troubling aspects of humanity: genocide, the child sex 
trade, domestic abuse, and sweat shops, to name just a few. But 
Vossen remains optimistic. "A really well-made film even on the 
most troublesome topic can be uplifting because it's helping to 
make the world more humane," she says. 

Vossen lives in San Francisco and works for the Independent 
Television Service (ITVS) as a series producer for the 
"Independent Lens" series, an hour-long program broadcast on 
most PBS member stations every Tuesday night at 10. She and 
three colleagues (from PBS and ITVS) screen hundreds of films 
and travel to film festivals throughout the world, watching as 
many as 40 documentaries in a week, seeking out voices that 
haven't been heard, important issues that haven't been covered, and 
innovative and compelling styles of telling a story through film. 

They whittle those down to roughly 35 independently pro- 
duced documentary, dramatic, and short films, which they 



acquire for about $20,000 each and broadcast the films — with- 
out changing or editing them — during the series' 29-week sea- 
son. "There's no filter," Vossen says. "No focus group or mar- 
keting person tells the filmmaker to change the ending, or to 
add something, to make it more appealing for X demographic. 
It is citizen storytellers talking directly to their fellow citizens. 
It's free to every American household and seen in a commercial- 
free environment. That is phenomenal in my opinion." 

Wednesday mornings are one of the most rewarding perks of 
Vossen's job. That's when she reads the sometimes hundreds of 
responses that viewers post on the web about the program the 
night before. They write in from all over the country, from all 
walks of life. Some disagree with the content, but the vast 
majority include an element of heartfelt gratitude for having 
raised their awareness to an issue, moved or inspired them in 
some way. "I often feel like nothing I can do can make any pos- 
sible difference to worldwide problems," writes a viewer from 
Minnesota after watching Sisters in Resistance, a documentary 
about four women in the French Resistance. "This film moti- 



32 The Independent I April 2005 



vates me to try. Thank you." 

Christianity Today called 
"Independent Lens" "TV's best kept 
secret." The Kansas City Star called it 
"the greatest showcase of independ- 
ent film on TV today." And Nancy 
Franklin of the New Yorker wrote, 
"Watching 'Independent Lens. ..is 
like going into an independent 
bookstore — you don't always find 
what you were looking for but you 
often find something you didn't 
even know you wanted." 

As social critics predict that 
American culture is fast on its way 
to becoming even more polarized 

and stratified — politically, econom- '" one episode of "Postcards 

11 . 11 i i ing the Sears Tower (PBS) 

ically, culturally, and generational- 

ly — this seems a rare opportunity for those who live in red and 
blue states, religious and secular, Republican and liberal, 
straight and gay, white and black, and all of those shades in 
between to share a common media experience and about an 
issue decidedly out of their everyday experience. 

It could be argued that this does not happen in the same 
way — with outreach efforts and supporting curriculum ideas lor 
educators — anywhere else on the spectrum. And that's what 
public television, created in the late 1960s, was designed to 
be — not just an alternative but an antidote to the "vast waste- 
land" of commercial television. 

The Public Broadcasting Act passed in 1967 mandated that 
public broadcasting must have "instructional, educational, and 
cultural purposes," serve as "a forum for controversy and 
debate" and "a voice for groups in the community that may 
otherwise be unheard" so that we could "see America whole, in 
all its diversity." 

From this vantage point, at least with these 29 hours of 
programming, public broadcasting seems to be alive and well, 
executing its mandate beautifully 

The Trouble with Buster 

Now pan over to the cartoon bunny Buster on PBS Kids. 
Children's and educational programming have always been pub- 
lic television's safe haven. In 1995, Newt Gingrich proposed to 
eliminate federal funding for PBS and learned that no one can 
go up against Big Bird and win. So the controversy last January 
involving a PBS Kid's program was particularly touchy. 

In "Postcards from Buster," a new program developed to pro- 
vide an after-school, non-commercial alternative for the 4-8- 
year-old crowd, Buster travels around the country meeting real- 
life children and experiencing their very different cultures and 
communities. In the controversial "Sugartime!" episode, Buster 
travels to Vermont and meets up with his host, 11 -year-old 




w V ^ J 

from Buster," Buster meets Farah, a 10-year-old Muslim girl, while visit- 
Emma, to learn about farm life and maple sugaring. It's all very 
innocuous until they meet Emma's parents, who are both 
women. When Buster meets Emma's friend Lily, also being 
raised by two women, he comments, "That's a lot of moms," the 
show's only reference to same-sex parenting. 

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings found the episode 
inappropriate for children, and on her second day on the job she 
requested that PBS refund the federal money ($125,000) pro- 
vided to produce the program. In a letter to PBS President Pat 
Mitchell this past January, Spellings wrote that the purpose of 
the funding received from Congress and the Department of 
Education "certainly was not to introduce this kind of subject 
matter to children." 

On that same day, PBS announced its decision not to dis- 
tribute the "Sugartime!" episode to its member stations, stating 
that "we recognize this is a sensitive issue, and we wanted to 
make sure that parents had an opportunity to introduce this 
subject to their own children in their own time." PBS insists 
that its decision not to distribute the program nationally was 
prompted by concerns from its member stations and not in 
response to Spellings's letter. Despite having organized an inter- 
nal investigation presumably to prove that point, Mitchell 
announced in February that she would step down as president 
when her contract expires in June 2006. She said that she felt no 
pressure, either from outside or inside, in making her decision 
to leave. 

Regardless of the panel's findings, the "Sugartime!" contro- 
versy illustrates the PBS conundrum — its lack of independent 
funding — and raises the billion-dollar question: Can PBS pro- 
gramming be truly independent, and true to its mandate, if 50 
percent of its annual operating budget comes from the govern- 
ment and corporate underwriters? Can PBS be free from polit- 
ical or corporate pressure if they are dependent on them for 
their existence? The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 



April 2005 I The Independent 33 




Jamila Emann filming Afghanistan Unveiled in a clinic in Kandahar 
(Polly Hyman and the AINA Women's Filming Group) 



which provides fund to PBS, NPR, and PRI, was designed for 
precisely this purpose — to shield PBS from political meddling. 
But it appears the firewall is down. 

Critics argue that PBS, pressured by budget constraints, has 
cozied up to corporate sponsors, to a conservative administra- 
tion and Congress, and to the former FCC chief Michael Powell 
(who left his post in March), and to Republican board members 
at CPB, by changing its programming to include shows that fea- 
ture such conservative commentators as CNN's Tucker Carlson 
and Paul Gigot from The Wall Street Journal. Observers wonder 
how they could possibly be considered an alternative to com- 
mercial media — they are the commercial media. Meanwhile, 
critics on the right have accused public broadcasting of being a 
hotbed of liberalism. 

When Sally Jo Fifer, president of ITVS, hears those claims, 
she thinks the definitions of liberal and conservative need to be 
recast. "Are issues of cultural diversity and inequity liberal?" she 
asks. "Do liberals own the problems of poverty because they talk 
about it? Are any topics that deal with morality somehow a con- 
servative topic?" 

The Funding Conundrum 

It's hard to disagree that America's public broadcast system is 
undercapitalized. It is the least publicly funded public broadcast- 
er in any democratic country. The average American pays about 
Si per year through federal taxes. The average Canadian pays 
Si 7. In Great Britain, it's $27 per person. In a recent speech, 
Mitchell pointed out that PBS spends less producing 2,000 hours 
of programming than HBO spent to promote "The Sopranos." 

The problem is not just the amount of funding but its 
reliance on the political tides of government, on corporations 
and foundations, on unpopular fund drives and on decreasing 
membership dues at PBS's 49 member station. 



This precarious funding situation puts at risk not only public 
television's editorial integrity but also its non-commercial 
integrity. Recently PBS allowed underwriting spots to increase 
from 15 seconds to 30 seconds. They are, in effect, commer- 
cials — arguably toned down, but still corporations selling their 
"hope in the future" and their wares, even to children. It's five 
minutes compared to commercial television's 17 minutes, but 
it's still advertising 

To solve the funding crisis, there are several proposals on the 
table to secure a multibillion-dollar trust fund from Congress. 
Mitchell has proposed a $5 billion trust fund that could be 
financed by the FCC auction of the analog spectrum (publicly 
owned airwaves worth several tens of billions of dollars) to wire- 
less companies. A permanent trust fund would help ease the 
financial pressures of the government mandated transition from 
analog broadcast to digital television, estimated to cost public 
television nearly $2 billion. It would also help public television 
reinvent itself in the new media landscape. For example, more 
than 2,000 new digital channels will be available to public tele- 
vision, but there is little to no money to develop new program- 
ming for those channels. 

There are widely divergent ideas of how the trust fund should 
be set up and what type of programming vision it should fund. 
And there are concerns that the discussion is not open or inclu- 
sive enough. The challenge, and it's a serious one, is to somehow 
present a unified voice before Congress. Any hint of divisiveness 
could easily aid critics and undermine the initiative. 

Does PBS matter? 

The media landscape has changed dramatically in the 36 
years since PBS was created. Instead of three networks, PBS is 
now competing with some 500 channels (although they are all 
owned by six media conglomerates). And some of those chan- 
nels (HBO, A&E, Discovery, Sundance) are broadcasting the 
kinds of shows that were exclusively the domain of PBS. 

The issue isn't so much the content, according to Sally Jo 
Fifer, but rather the intention that matters and separates public 
interest media from commercial media. Fifer makes an analogy: 
"If we're having a conversation and your goal is to sell me a vac- 
uum cleaner, that is going to be a very different interaction than 
if we're talking about how to solve a problem." PBS treats the 
viewer as a citizen and not as a consumer. Its goal is to inform 
and engage the public as citizens, to build and take care of 
healthy communities — not to increase the bottom line. 

But in today's entertainment-culture-on-steroids, how does 
PBS interest the public in becoming engaged and informed 
without resorting to commercial crassness? And furthermore, is 
PBS the best institution, and should it be the only one to receive 
funding to accomplish this goal? 

Expanding the Digital Horizon 

"PBS will never be a significant player in the emerging digi- 
tal landscape because of its inability to free itself of governmen- 
tal pressures," says Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the 
Center for Digital Democracy. He points out that even if the 
trust fund initiative is successful, Congress will still appropriate 



34 The Independent I April 2005 



the money annually. Their desperation for funding, Chester 
believes, will lead to inevitable concessions that will take them 
further away from their mandate. Having said that, Chester 
adds, "We should try to fix it if we can, and it's very important 
for independents to enter into the debate and remind the pub- 
lic that PBS has a larger mission than just education." What 
Chester finds hopeful is that with the new media landscape of 
expanded cable, satellite, and broadband, it's now possible to 
bypass the public broadcasting system. 

Clay Shirley, media consultant and New York University 
adjunct professor, describes the current media situation as a "freak 
out." Most people agree that it's a virtual free-for-all, and it's any- 
one's best guess how it will all play out. What seems to be clear is 
that the media incumbents (both commercial and public) stand 
to lose the most. The tendency is to enter into lockdown mode to 
protect your share of the pie. For advocates of public media, a 
vital component of a healthy democracy is at stake. 

"If free and independent journalism committed to telling the 
truth without fear or favor is suffocated, the oxygen goes out of 
democracy," Bill Moyers warned in a keynote address to the 
National Conference on Media Reform. 

But what "free and independent journalism" looks like in the 
future is still being defined. 

Google and Yahoo, among others, have begun indexing the 
content of video from the web and from broadcast and satellite 
television. It probably won't be long before we can watch and 
search entire programs on the web as well as access archives. 
Emerging Pictures is creating a network of digital theatres at art 
and science institutions throughout the world, lowering distri- 
bution costs and broadening distribution possibilities for inde- 
pendent film. The company is also syndicating and digitally 
broadcasting entire film festivals. The Internet Archive is build- 
ing a digital library of internet sites and will act as a library, pro- 
viding free access to everyone. Al Gore and Joel Hyatt have 
plans for a new cable and satellite network that promises to 
create a whole new paradigm for the creation and distribution 
of information and to be "the antidote to the established corpo- 
rate media." 

Peter Leyden, the former features editor of Wired and now the 
so-called knowledge developer at Global Business Network, stud- 
ied possible scenarios for the future of independent media. What 
he found exciting was this bottom-up phenomenon of media 
being fueled by the Millennial Generation, people born after 
1982. Leyden says they are tech-sawy, "totally energized," and 
always connected. They're also incredibly enthusiastic and opti- 
mistic about the future, and define success in a different way. If 
someone in India watches their skateboard video, they're thrilled. 

So while the media incumbents, mostly baby boomers, are 
talking about a daunting, overwhelming, undercapitalized, and 
somewhat depressing future, these kids are revved up and also 
widely ignored by the establishment. "The worst thing you 
could do would be to try to shut them up," Leyden says. 
"They're the future." 




Sisters in Resistance: (l-r) Germaine Tillion, Genevieve de Gaulle 
Anthonioz, Jacqueline Pery d'Alincourt, and Anise Postel-Vinay. 
(Maia Wechsler/ WMM/ITVS) 



Harnessing the Unknown 

Greater access to information alone does not guarantee a 
greater perspective or deeper understanding of the world. So 
who or what will organize and filter this new media for us? How 
will we know what sources are reliable, or will we care? Who will 
we trust to give us fair, accurate, and balanced information, or 
will we even seek it out? 

Will we organize ourselves around politics and rely more on 
partisan-driven blogs? Will we resort to vigilante-like journal- 
ism, the kind that took down CBS anchor Dan Rather and 
CNN news executive Eason Jordan? House parties for 
Fahrenheit 9/11. House parties for Farenhype 9/11. Where and 
how will we come together? 

Perhaps the only certainty is that the technology train is mov- 
ing forward at warp speed and no one is going to slow it down 
while public interest media figures out who it wants to be. 

Clearly, there is no magic pill that will ensure a thriving inde- 
pendent media. ITVS's Fifer suggests that we think of it as an 
ecosystem and focus on ways to make sure it's healthy. We need 
to ensure that a good supply of content exists, as well as secure 
distribution platforms to showcase it. Widely available and 
inexpensive production equipment does not mean that anyone 
will know how to tell a good story. We need to support media 
arts centers, production and media literacy programs in schools, 
film festivals, as well as public broadcasting. 

Leyden summarizes the task at hand: Somehow we need to 
figure out what can be done, and done well, by the commercial, 
market-driven forces, what can be done well by a new genera- 
tion using cutting-edge technologies, and what are the holes 
that need to be covered by public broadcasting so that we have 
a vibrant media spectrum and a true democracy. 

How we achieve that might not be the best job in the world, 
but it's an important one. •& 



April 2005 I The Independent 35 




Independents take to the roof 



BY DAVID ALM 



In New York, a rooftop is not merely a rooftop. Part refuge, 
part observation deck, the roof is where New Yorkers go to 
escape, embrace, and celebrate their city. It's no surprise 
then, that filmmakers have long used rooftops to convey 
New York life: they're ubiquitous, photogenic, and, most of all, 
emblematic. Think or all the rooftop shootouts and foot chases 
in the great New York gangster films — from The Musketeers of 
Pig Alley (1912) to Once Upon a Time in America (1984). Or the 
pigeon coops in On the Waterfront (1954), Ghost Dog: The Way 
of the Samurai (1999), and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) — 
offering rooftop reprieve to the burdened protagonists of those 
films. And who can forget the scene in Annie Hall (1977), 
where Alvy (Woody Allen) and Annie (Diane Keaton) fumble 
around topics of heritage — "You're what Grammy Hall would 
call a real Jew!" — and photography while sipping white wine on 
the roof of Annie's Upper East Side apartment building? 

Still, barring city-sponsored screenings in Bryant and Central 
Parks, going to the movies in New York has generally been an 
indoor activity ever since Thomas Edison's first coin-operated 
Kinetoscope parlor opened back in 1894, at Broadway and 26^ 



Street. Today, the city's famous venues are grand movie 
palaces, converted Chinese and Yiddish theaters, and art cine- 
mas housed in swanky neighborhoods like Soho and Tribeca. 
In short: very expensive real estate. And while microcinemas 
have cropped up in unconventional spaces across the United 
States — from funeral homes to auto repair shops — the con- 
cept simply isn't feasible on a modest budget in New York. 
Who has the space? 

The answer can be found in the classic paradox describing 
who owns New York City: everyone, and no one. 

Enter Rooftop Films, a nonprofit film festival and produc- 
tion collective started in 1997 by Mark Elijah Rosenberg, then 
just 22, fresh out of college, and recently returned to his home- 
town. "Being a native New Yorker, I'd always spent a lot of time 
on rooftops," he says. "They're these sort of private/public 
spaces that you can only access through the building. So you 
have this private entrance, but then everyone can see the out- 
doors. They're just really wonderful." 

Rosenberg majored in film at Vassar College in 
Poughkeepsie, New York, and moved into a six-floor walk-up in 



36 The Independent I April 2005 



Manhattan's East Village after graduation. "I used to go up [to 
my roof] to read, write, and just hang out all the time," he says. 
"And because I had films and my friends had films, I thought it 
would be fun to have a party and screening all at once. It just 
seemed like a natural thing to do." 



ing out emails, and distributing self-made posters and postcards 
by hand. 

That shotgun approach draws the gamut of film projects, 
including experimental shorts, animations, documentaries, and 
feature films. And while some of them are one-off productions 



So he bought a used 16mm projector for $60, borrowed 200 by first-time filmmakers, others come from highly accom- 

chairs from a furniture company, and taped a sheet to a wall at plished independent directors. Sam Green, who co-directed the 

the edge of his roof. Then he told everyone he knew about the Oscar-nominated documentary The Weather Underground 

party, and on the day of the screening he went to a concert in (2002), screened one of his early films, Pie Fight '69, at Rooftop 

Central Park and passed out business card-size invitations to his in the summer of 2000. That season, Rooftop also screened a 

roof. Over 300 people turned out for the event, and Rosenberg, short film by Peter Sollet about a group of teenage kids on the 

whose screening was in massive violation of his lease, was Lower East Side titled Five Feet High and Rising, which later 



promptly evicted. 

"I never thought I was starting a 
film festival," he says of that first 
night. "I thought I was hosting a 
little one-time thing, but it worked 
out so well that once the next 
spring rolled around I thought Id 
do it again." 

Fortunately, Rosenbergs friend 
Dan Nuxoll, also a 1997 Vassar grad- 
uate, and his friend Joshua Breitbart 
were converting an old East 
Williamsburg warehouse into a loft 
when Rosenberg lost his apartment. 
"We had access to the roof," Nuxoll 
says, adding that the area was far less 
regulated than most Manhattan properties. "Artists could get 




Rooftop now screens films for 16 weeks every summer 
(photo courtesy of Rooftop Films) 



became the acclaimed 2002 feature 
Raising Victor Vargas. 

In recent years, the Rooftop team 
has taken programs to art galleries, 
cafes, and microcinemas in New 
Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, and 
Vancouver, among other cities. They 
also moved from East Williamsburg 
to Gowanus, where they have hosted 
the last two seasons atop the Old 
American Can Factory, and this 
summer they will move the opera- 
tion once again to an even larger 
Brooklyn rooftop, at Automotive 
High School in the heart of 
Williamsburg. 
Such growth raises the question: In a world where nonprofits 



away with doing more there than they could anywhere else in the and independent media organizations face enormous survival 

city. So we asked our landlord if we could build a screen on the odds, how has Rooftop Films managed so well? 

roof, and he said, 'Yeah sure, whatever. Go ahead.'" "Rooftop has the kind of energy around it that characterized 

Breitbart and Nuxoll hosted the festival's weekly Friday night the New York film scene in the 1960s — or at least the closest 

screenings for the next five years, while Rosenberg remained the you can get to it these days," says Todd Rohal, a Washington, 

organization's artistic director. In that time, Rooftop Films grew DC-based filmmaker whose short films have screened at numer- 

exponentially: its annual submissions more thanjripled, from a ous festivals, including Rooftop, Slamdance, and SXSW. "The 

couple hundred during the late 1990s to 900 in 2003. It now films are not all overly raunchy or dirty, and it's not the in-your- 

features up to 16 weeks of programming each summer, DVDs, face, beyond-the-point web-toons stuff that the modern under- 

a zine, production grants, education initiatives, and traveling ground fests are filled with. Rather, it's an atmosphere of not 

programs that have screened across the United States and in knowing what to expect next and feeling like you're squatting in 

Canada. Last year 1,200 submissions came from all over the this property watching films that might never be seen anywhere 

world and Nuxoll, who has been program director since 2001, else. Rooftop is that last little bit of the old New York under- 

says he expects to receive between 1,500 and 2,000 films by the ground, a venue out in the middle of the nowhere end of 

end of the 2005 season. Brooklyn that allows you to see films that are either on the verge 

They don't advertise for lack of funds, Nuxoll says, but of making it big or the verge of disappearing forever." 
instead rely on word-of-mouth, cold-calling film schools, send- Not surprisingly, this echoes Rosenberg's initial vision for the 



April 2005 I The Independent 37 





Steve Collins's The Plumber screened at rooftop, after being 
turned away by over 30 other festivals 



Todd Rohal's Hillybilly Robot was one of Rooftop's recent selections 



organization. "I think a lot of film festivals start with people 
thinking they're going to get these people to sponsor it, and 
these people to host it, and this will be the theme, and this will 
be the idea, and this is the 5-year plan." Rosenberg says. "And 
once they've got all that they try to see the films. I was really the 
opposite. I'd seen a lot of great films that I didn't think a lot of 
people were seeing. So I thought it would be a great way to get 
people to come and see them, to have this gimmick of doing it 
outside, because everyone in New York wants to be outside in 
the summer." 

Everyone might be a stretch, but Rooftop Films did welcome 
3,000 guests in 2003, and in 2004, 4,000 turned out. The recep- 
tion could reflect Brooklyn's relatively newfound status as a hot 
nightspot, even for Manhattanites, as much as the quality of 
Rooftop's programming. And this poses a challenge for the organ- 
ization: to separate itself from the so-called "hipster invasion" that 
is rapidly transforming Brooklyn's working-class and ethnic neigh- 
borhoods into a playground lor rich 20-somethings. 

"We've had audiences that are very ethnically mixed," Nuxoll 
says. "But the truth of it is, whether or not our programming 
caters to white audiences, our audiences are still very much 
dominated by Caucasians. We definitely have a disproportion- 
ate number ol people [under 40] who've gotten a college educa- 
tion or graduate degrees. And we've worked really hard over the 
years to get communities more involved with the organiza- 
tion — particularly neighborhoods in which we're showing films. 
And we've been successful in various ways, but it's not easy to 
shake that perception. I think a lot of filmmakers feel more 
comfortable submitting to festivals that they think are run by 
people with backgrounds like their own." 

With that in mind, Rooftop has made a priority of program- 
ming more films by women, people of color, and international 
filmmakers. But the emphasis remains unequivocally on quality 
and on providing a venue for promising filmmakers — whoever 
and wherever they might be. 

"I think the best films that we show are the best films there 
are," says Sarah Palmer, the organization's festival director, zine 
editor, and another Vassar grad (1999). "And I think our films 



are particular in the way that we curate them. We have region- 
al programs and other sorts of programs, like home movies, and 
we always think about how our unique venues are matched with 
our unique programs." 

To create each program, Palmer, Nuxoll, and Rosenberg take 
turns viewing every film submitted to the festival. After viewing 
a given film, they enter its title and filmmaker into a database 
along with a rating: "Pass," "Consider Low," "Consider High," 
or "Recommend." Then they start looking for thematic pat- 
terns, and potential programs begin to emerge. 

"If we see that we've got 25 films with a "Recommend" or 
"Consider High" rating from Texas, then we think, okay, maybe 
we should put together a program of just Texas stuff," Nuxoll 
says. Other categories might include world documentaries, 
women- or youth-made films, and films from the Midwest. 
Some categories, such as home movies and New York films, 
have recurred so often that they're in annual rotation. And cer- 
tain years, time-specific themes emerge. In 2004, so many polit- 
ically-oriented films were submitted that the Rooftop team 
compiled them onto a DVD and even traveled to several swing- 
states to help get out the vote. "But we always do at least two 
programs that are not organized around any specific theme," 
Nuxoll says, "other than that we like them." 

Each program lasts between 80 minutes and two hours, and 
consists of approximately six to 17 films. Nuxoll says they try to 
incorporate one or two longer films to avoid what he recounts 
as "one of the most difficult watching experiences" he's ever had. 
"These guys put together an evening of all one-minute films," 
he says. "It was just a one-hour program, but it was 60 one- 
minute films — and it was maddening. It was like watching 
commercials." 

Another cause for Rooftop's success appears to be its support of 
not only great films, but of the people who make them. One dol- 
lar of every ticket sale goes into a grant for filmmakers who have 
screened work at Rooftop and who submit a simple application. 

"It's a way of giving back to the filmmaking community, of 
fostering production, and really coming up with a network and 
a creative way of helping true independent filmmakers," 



38 The Independent I April 2005 




Rooftop's success appears to be its support of not only great films, but of the people who make them (photo courtesy of Rooftop Films) 



Rosenberg says. "They're not people working through 
Miramax, but people who are really working on their own films. 
And we want to get their films made." 

One of Rooftop's regulars, Steve Collins, screened his short 
film The Plumber during an "open projector" portion of 
Rooftop's inaugural night after getting turned away by over 
30 other festivals. "Mark never rejected me^ so I like this 
relationship better than my relationship with programmers at 
Sundance, Berlin, etc.," he says. Rooftop even donated tape 
stock to Collins for his graduate thesis at the University of 
Texas, Austin, and provided him with something every film- 
maker wants: an audience. 

In the future, Rooftop's three principals plan to expand its 
production arm and become a central resource for the 
filmmaking community. They also intend to sell programming 
packages for a small fee to fledgling microcinemas that lack 



the contacts and resources they have spent the past eight years 
acquiring. And of course, like so many nonprofit arts org- 
anizations, they would love to hire more help. "Mark, Dan, and 
I are the heads of this great film festival," Palmer says, "but 
we're also the ones unloading the U-Haul at three in the morn- 
ing. It would be great for certain things to run themselves a 
little more." 

At the end of the day — or week, as it were — all their hard 
work pays off in the simplest way. "I'm most happy when I stand 
at the back of the show with Mark and Dan, and we watch an 
audience enraptured by a film on a summer night in New York," 
Palmer says. "When we watch people watching films that they've 
never imagined before and enjoying them, and watch filmmak- 
ers meeting people after a show, that's really what's most fulfill- 
ing. Seeing people connect in this realm of film." -k 



April 2005 I The Independent 39 



DO-SOMETHING 
DOCUMENTARIES 




BY LISA SELIN DAVIS 

In the recently released film Hotel Rwanda (2004), Joaquin 
Phoenix's character, a hard-living videographer who has 
just filmed the unfathomable massacre ofTutsis by Hutus, 
turns to Don Cheadle's character, Paul Rusesabagina, and 
says, "If people see this they'll say, 'Oh my god, that's horrible,' 
and then they'll go on eating their dinners." 

By the end of the film, I was, like many moviegoers around 
me, red-eyed, shaken, and shamed. We streamed out of the 
movie theater saying, "That's so horrible." And many of us then 
went on to eat our dinners. 

Clearly, social issue films have the power to alert us to 
wrongs, but times have changed since Titicut Follies (1967) 
begot massive reform in mental health care or The Thin Blue 
Line (1988) helped clear Randall Adams of murder charges. 
These days, social issue filmmakers are doing more than trying 
to get their movies up on the big screen. They're trying to get 
their messages to the right people, and motivating audiences to 
stop eating their dinners and do something. A new breed of 
documentary outreach allows films to have a life, long after the 
theater empties or the TV turns off. 

I saw Titicut Follies in a documentary film class at Hampshire 
College in the late 1980s. In those days, it was still banned for 
public viewing, and we had to sign special forms claiming we 
were social work students and that the viewing was essential to 



our professional development. (The ban is now lifted.) In the 
1 960s, when Titicut Follies was released, two important changes 
helped birth social issue films: new film technologies and mas- 
sive social unrest. Portable film and video equipment allowed 
audiences at home to see footage of protesters assaulted by fire 
hoses or bitten by police dogs on the evening news. Groups like 
California Newsreel sprung up to help distribute social issue 
films. Cameras were light enough to slip into mental institu- 
tions or come along for the long ride of union fights as in 
Barbara Kopple's Harlan County, USA (1976). We'd never been 
invited into struggles the way cinema verite allowed us to be. 
These images were dangerous (hence the Titicut Follies ban). 
They were enough to catapult us into action. 

Today's viewers are much more savvy and media-saturated, 
and five minutes of injustice on the evening news is unlikely to 
sway popular opinion (Rodney King aside), or, for that matter, 
political activity. Sometimes watching a movie can make you 
feel as if you've acted and shared that experience with the film's 
subjects, when all you've done is sympathized. So the next gen- 
eration — spurred by new technologies and massive social 
unrest — looks to outreach to effect social change. 

"The difference between outreach and marketing is that you 
want it to make an impact. You want the media to be used in 
some way that's fulfilling the mission of why it was made in the 



40 The Independent I April 2005 



first place," says Nicole Betancourt, 
executive director of MediaRights, 
an organization that unites social 
issue documentaries with nonprofits, 
libraries, activists, and educators. 

Outreach is a plan for distribut- 
ing the message, not just the film. 
"We start from the premise that 
we're creating change around a spe- 
cific goal and audience in each proj- 
ect," says Hakima Abbas, a program 
associate at Witness, a New York- 
based group co-founded by singer- 
songwriter Peter Gabriel to train 
human rights groups in documen- 
tary production. With each project 

they take on, Witness and their partnering human rights group 
devise a "video action plan." 

"What do we want to change: a specific legislation, or a spe- 
cific policy?" asks Habbas. "Or do we want to mobilize a cora- 




Kirsten Johnson, Angela Tucker, and Katy Chevigny filming Deadline in Chicago 
(photo courtesy of Big Mouth Productions) 

Audience — the story's potential buyers — is the key compo- 
nent in outreach. Those who are inclined to watch public tele- 
vision or attend festivals like Human Rights Watch might be 
already in the choir, but just don't have the power to make 
munity to do something, and then who would our target audi- change. "It's not necessarily the number of people who see your 
ences be? Who would be best reached and could create this piece, but who are the key people that need to see it who will be 
change, and then, from there, how would we structure this story able to make this change," Habbas says. 

so that people are moved to create this change? It's a little like "Think about what your goals are for the impact of the film 

working backwards as opposed to the traditional documentary before you make it, who your audience is," Betancourt suggests, 
where the story would lead us to the end." "What organizations can help you reach your audiences and 

For example, Witness partnered with nonprofits Books Not help you reach the impact you want to have? Try to partner with 
Bars and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights to create those organizations early on." 

System Failure: Violence, Abuse and Neglect in the California Off-Center teams up with nonprofit law firms to make doc- 

Youth Authority (2004) specifically for policymakers, communi- umentaries about specific criminal justice cases. Founders Emily 
ty organizations, and parents of imprisoned children (though it and her sister Sarah Kunstler are the daughters of civil rights 
also had a theatrical release). After screening the film at the state attorney William Kunstler, and their work started as a way to 
capitol in January — the first such screening, according to document a poorly handled drug-bust in Tulia, Texas, a case the 
Witness — reform measures for the California Youth Authority William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice had taken on. 
were introduced. The resulting documentary, Tulia, Texas: Scenes from the Drug 

"What we do basically is PR work for unpopular causes," says War (2002), was shown to members of the judicial community 
Emily Kunstler, co-founder of Off Center Productions, a group both locally and nationally and led to new representation for the 
dedicated to using video as a tool for organizing and social jus- defendants, new legislation in the Texas senate, and the indict- 
tice. "It's all theater. It's just trying to sell your side of the story." ment of a narcotics officer. Groups like the NAACP and the 



April 2005 I The Independent 41 



ACLU have used the video in presentations. 

"If our goal with our films was purely to get a large audience 
and try to sway popular opinion, we would feel enormously 
frustrated and useless," Kunstler says. "Our work is most grati- 
fying when we're influential behind the scenes. Otherwise, it's 
too broad. You have to be more strategic." 

"The key component to a successful outreach campaign is 
when you have an audience, what are you going to do with 
them?" Betancourt asks. "How are you going to maximize that 
moment where you have them in your pocket and give them a 
chance to become active citizens or participants in what they're 
watching as opposed to depressed or couch potatoes?" 

Media-makers can either offer their films to existing cam- 
paigns or design campaigns around their films. This might 









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include presenting a way to make donations, a petition they can 
sign, or a letter they can send. Some filmmakers create study 
guides and get them out to schools. Or, inspired by the way 
groups like MoveOn.org can motivate large numbers of people 
with a simple click of the mouse, use the internet with a "take 
action" link. 

Tod Lending s Legacy (2000), a documentary about the cycli- 
cal nature of urban poverty in four generations of one family, was 
targeted at both a general and legislative audience and inspired 
federal housing legislation called the LEGACY bill. It has a view- 
ing guide and offers access to advocacy and informational links. 
At screenings of the film Blue Vinyl (2002), the filmmakers hand- 
ed out stamped postcards that objected to corporate use of PVC 
packaging. 

"You really want to give people tools to make change at every 
point, because very few people are going to," says Angela Tucker, 
outreach coordinator for the social issue documentary company 
Big Mouth Productions. "But if they have something in their 
hand that they can do, at least they can't say they didn't know 
what to do." Big Mouth's documentary Deadline (2004) is a ver- 
ite account of Illinois Governor George Ryan's decision to com- 
mute the death sentence of 167 death row inmates during his last 
few days in office. Like the websites of many social issue films, 



www.deadlinethemovie.com has a "Get involved" link that con- 
nects you to your local governor's office, allows you to sample let- 
ters and editorials, register to vote, and make donations. 

Problem is, many filmmakers don't want to spend their time 
devising a strategic outreach plan; it takes as much time and 
energy as the production itself. "There's the filmmaker goal, 
which is the 'I personally as the filmmaker want to have a film 
that shows on HBO, and I want to have a theatrical release,'" 
Tucker says. "The whole other piece of it is wanting to have 
your film make some kind of impact." Besides MediaRights, 
which now boasts 100,000 unique web visits a day and keeps a 
roster of over 10,000 members and 6,000 films, a number of 
outreach-only companies provide services to match movies with 
social change campaigns. 

North Carolina-based Working Films fits filmmakers with 
organizers, grassroots campaigns, and all manners of communi- 
ty education efforts around social and economic justice issues 
(they coordinated the campaign around Blue Vinyl). Active 
Voice, in San Francisco, is a team of strategic communication 
specialists who partner movies with change-makers. Their work 
includes the Television Race Initiative, which uses "high 
impact" programming around race and identity to start com- 
munity dialogues. The Human Rights Video Project curates 
human rights-related videos, joining them with libraries and 
advocacy groups to get the films out to a non film-festival audi- 
ence. There's the National Center for Outreach in Wisconsin, 
which brings public television programming off the small screen 
and into the classroom and community. And Outreach 
Extensions is a California-based consulting firm that uses a 
strategic methodology they call "building synergistic outreach 
pathway" to connect media with community or education 
groups. Part of their work includes the Reentry National Media 
Outreach Campaign, using several documentaries to make 
change around post-prison life. Groups like these can expand a 
film's audience exponentially or target it to the right corner of 
the world. 

The other advantage to focusing on a film's outreach strategy 
is funding. "A lot of foundations are more comfortable in fund- 
ing films that have outreach campaigns, or they're more com- 
fortable funding outreach than the actual film," Betancourt 
says. "They're saying, 'Why are we giving money to this film 
instead of a needle exchange program?' Filmmakers need to 
think about how the film is going to be used in the field and 
who's going to use it and why do they need it." 

The outreach campaign for Deadline, for instance (which 
included screenings for key legal officials and law schools 
around the country and partnerships with groups like the Legal 
Defense Fund and the Center for Human Rights), had a sepa- 
rate funding stream than the film, including the Ford 
Foundation and the Open Society Institute. The film is espe- 
cially timely as New York State reconsiders its position on the 
death penalty, and outreach has included screenings in Albany 
for key people involved in the debate. 

But how do you measure the efficacy of your film, either 
individually or as part of a campaign? "Changing legislature is 



42 The Independent I April 2005 



hard," Tucker says. "Even if New York doesn't bring back the 
death penalty, we can't say it was because of Deadline outreach." 

"That's something that a lot of people have been grappling 
with," Betancourt says. "Huge multinational companies like 
Reebok spend a lot of money analyzing the effectiveness of their 
advertising campaigns, and they can also say, 'We sold more 
sneakers' or, 'Wow, we've changed the public perception of high 
impact sports.' But documentary filmmakers barely have 
enough money to promote their film or get it out there, let 
alone analyze its effectiveness." 

But there are ways to try and track the impact, which is 
important information for your funders, for your cause, and for 
your career, since realizing your advocacy goal can only help 
with the next project. You can follow how many films were dis- 
tributed. You can hand out surveys at films asking how or if it 
changed minds or will inspire change. You can track informa- 
tion on your website, including how many hits you get, and 
how many times someone links to "take action." 

Documentaries can be the tipping point in a social change 
campaign, where the documentary acts as a kind of palliative 
that lawmakers or those in positions of power to create change 
could not otherwise stomach or witness. "It's effective in putting 
a human face on an issue," Habbas says. "We can talk about 
numbers in a written report, but seeing the testimony of a 
woman who has been repeatedly raped in a conflict — it's cer- 
tainly more emotive and powerful and is more likely to move 
people to create change." 

Kunstler says: "We saw the strength of [ Tulia, Texas] and the 
role that it played in that movement, and we felt that we should 
be exposing more issues of injustice. We've always been activists, 
but we found that this was a way to affect greater change." 

Betancourt says: "It's always hard to say, was it the film that 
did it, was it the campaign that did it? It takes a lot of people to 
make change happen. But I do think a film has an emotional 
hook that can get people to connect to people that they other- 
wise aren't empathizing with. And if you can empathize with 
that person who you think is different or outside or not your 
problem, that's a huge leap." -k 




Tulia, Texas: Scenes from the Drug War 
(Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice) 



Statoment of intent "1 

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"Statement of Intent" required for a screening of 
Titicut Follies in Seattle, Washington in 1967 



Documentary Outreach Organizations 



Active Voice 


National Center for Outreach 


2601 Mariposa Street 


975 Observatory Drive 


3rd floor 


Madison, WI 53706 


San Francisco, CA 941 10 


866-234-2016 


415-553-2841 


www.nationaloutreach.org 


www. activevoice. net 






Off-Center Productions 


Big Mouth Productions 


625 Atlantic Avenue 


104 West 14th Street 


Suite 3303 


4th Floor 


Brooklyn, NY 11217 


New York, NY 10011 


718-636-0988 


646-230-6228 


www.off-center.org 


www.bigmouthproductions.com 






Outreach Extension 


Human Rights Video Project 


7039 Dume Drive 


National Video Resources 


Malibu, CA 90265 


73 Spring Street, Suite 403 


310-589-5180 


New York, NY 10012 


outext@aol.com (no web 


212-274-8080 


address) 


www.humanrightsproject.org 






Witness 


Human Rights Watch Festival 


80 Hanson Place 


350 Fifth Avenue 


5th Floor 


34th Floor 


Brooklyn, NY 11217 


New York, NY 10118-3299 


718-783-2000 


212-290-4700 


www.witness.org 


www. hrw.org/iff 






Working Films 


MediaRights 


602 South Fifth Avenue 


104W 14th St. 


Wilmington, NC 28401 


4th Fl. 


910-342-9000 


New York, NY 10011 


www.workingfilms.org 


646-230-6288 




www.mediarights.org 





April 2005 I The Independent 43 



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DOMESTIC 

ACTION/CUT SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 29- 

Sept. 1, CA. Deadline: March 15; May 15. 
Cats: short, any style or genre. Awards: 
$35,000 in cash & services. Preview on DVD 
or VHS. Entry Fee: S40-S85. Contact: 
Action/Cut Filmmaking Seminars; filmmak 
ing@actioncut.com; www.actioncut.com. 

ALGONQUIN FILM FESTIVAL, May 19- 22, PA 

Deadline: Apr. 30. This Festival welcomes 
entries from all over the world & strives to 
promote independent film, w/ an emphasis 
on work from the "genius belt" between 
New York & Philadelphia. Cats: feature, doc, 
animation, experimental, short, music video, 
student. Awards: None. Formats: 3/4", VHS, 
DV, Beta, Digifilm. Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: $20 (shorts & students), $40 (features). 
Contact: Algonquin Film Festival Screening 
Committee; (267) 981-1139; mfo@algonqum 
fest.org; www.algonqumfest.org. 

ALL ROADS FILM FESTIVAL, Sept-Nov, 
CA/DC. Deadline: May 7. A multimedia fest & 
grants program created to provide a platform 
for indigenous & under-represented minority- 
culture storytellers. Cats: feature, doc, short, 
animation, music video. Awards: Audience 
Awards in each category. Formats: 70mm, 
35mm, 16mm, Beta, DigiBeta, Mini-DV 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: All Roads Film Project; (202) 857- 
7692; allroads@ngs.org; www.nat'lgeograp 
hic.com/allroads. 

BIG BEAR LAKE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 1 6- 
18, CA. Deadline: March 1; April 8 (final 
scripts); June 20 (final). This year's cultural 
event will showcase German cinema. The 



fest is located in Big Bear Lake, California, 
nestled in the San Bernardino Nat'l Forest, 
just two hours outside of Los Angeles. Cats: 
feature, student, short, script, doc, family. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $35-$45. 
Contact: Monika Skerbelis, Festival & 
Programming Director; (909) 866-3433; fax: 
same; bigbearfilmfest@aol.com; www.big 
bearlakefilmfestival.com. 

BRIDGE FILM FESTIVAL, April 16, NY Deadline: 
April 4. Featuring films by middle- & upper 
school students attending Quaker schools 
worldwide & students who are members of 
the Quaker faith. The goal of the fest is to pro- 
mote value-based filmmaking on topics that 
our children & communities grapple w/ regu- 
larly, such as integrity, non violence, social 
conscience & political justice. The fest is not 
looking for films about Quaker philosophy but 
films that depict Quaker ideals in action. From 
the participating schools, finalist films will be 
chosen & screened & awards are given based 
on both the quality of filmmaking & content. 
Entries may be up to 12 mm. in length. Cats: 
doc, Nature, Comedy, Drama, Animation, 
music video, student, short. Preview on VHS 
(NTSC). Entry Fee: $50. Contact: Andy Cohen; 
(718) 852-1029; fax: 643-4868; 

acohen@brooklynfriends.org; www.brooklyn 
friends.org/bndgefilm/index.html. 

BRONX INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL, June 

5-9, NY. Deadline: May 2; May 16 (final). 
Presented by Bronx Stage & Film Company, 
fest seeks not commercially exhibited prior 
to fest dates. Cats: feature, doc, short, ani- 
mation, experimental. Formats: DV. Preview 
on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $10-$20. Contact: 
Festival; film@bronxstage.com; www.bronx 
stage.com. 

BROOKLYN INT'L DISABILITY FILM FESTIVAL, 

July 22-24, NY. Deadline: March 15; April 8 
(final). New York City's first int'l disability film 
fest. The fest honors films about all disabili- 
ties & especially recognizes the work of film- 
makers w/ disabilities. Outstanding Disability 
Rights advocates will also be honored. Cats: 



feature, doc, short, animation, experimental. 
Awards: Best Feature, Best Short, Best Doc, 
Best Animation, Best Experimental Film, 
Audience Awards. Formats: DV, DVD, 16mm, 
Beta SP Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $20; $25 
(final). Contact: Long Island University (LIU), 
Media Arts Dept; www.brooklyn.liu.edu/bidff/ 

DC ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL 

Oct. 6-15, DC. Deadline: April 1; May 1 (final). 
The test's mission is to "bring attention to the 
creative output from APA communities & 
encourage the artistic development of APA 
films in the greater Washington DC metropol- 
itan region." The screenings are held at the 
Smithsonian Institution's Freer Gallery of Art's 
Meyer Auditorium, the Hirshhom Museum & 
Sculpture, the Canadian Embassy, & other 
venues. Founded: 2000. Cats: feature, doc, 
short, experimental, animation. Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, Betacam. Preview on VHS 
(NTSC) or DVD. Entry Fee: $10 (shorts & fea- 
tures); $20 (final). Contact: Festival; 
gene@apafilm.org; www.apafilm.org. 

EPFC EXPERIMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL, May 13 

1 5, CA. Deadline: April 1 . A festival devoted to 
expenemtnal & doc makers. Films screen in 
the Echo Park Film Center micro-cinema fest. 
Cats: doc, experimental, short. Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Contact: Echo Park Film Center; 
paolofilm@hotmail.com; www.echoparkfilm 
center.org. 

FILM LIFE'S AMERICAN BLACK FILM FESTIVAL, 

July 13-17, FL. Deadline: April 8. Festival is 5 
days of independent films, panels, work- 
shops, Hollywood premieres, live entertain- 
ment & the ABFF Awards Dinner. 
Filmmakers, actors, industry executives, jour- 
nalists & the public form a creatively charged 
atmosphere on South Beach. Fest dubs itself 
as "the premiere int'l black film market & 
retreat." Founded: 1997. Cats: Feature, Short, 
doc. Formats: All formats. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $30. Contact: Festival; (212) 966- 
2411; fax: 966-2219; abff@thefilmlife.com; 
www.abff.com. 



44 The Independent I April 2005 



HOT SPRINGS DOC FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 21-30, 
AR. Deadline: April 8; May 20 (final). Annual 
fest accepting nonfiction film submissions for 
one of the country's premier nonfiction film 
celebrations. Noncompetitive fest honors 
films & filmmakers each yr. in beautiful Hot 
Springs Nat'l Park, Arkansas. More than 85 
films are screened, incl. the current year's 
Academy Award nominees in nonfiction cats. 
Special guest scholars, filmmakers & celebri- 
ties participate in forums & lectures. 
Founded: 1992. Cats: doc. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, 1/2", DVD, Beta. Preview on VHS or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $25-555. Contact: Darla 
Dixon, HSDFI; (501) 321-4747; fax: (501) 321- 
0211; ddixon@sdfi.org; www.hsdfi.org. 

HUNGARIAN MULTICULTURAL CENTER FILM 
AND VIDEO FESTIVAL, Aug 17 19, TX 

Deadline: April 20. Annual fest accepts film is 
dedicated to promote cultural expansion of 
the visual arts between Hungary & the United 
States. Work must be under 60 mm. in length 
& been completed in past 2 years. Cats: 
Animation, Feature, Short, Doc. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, 3/4", 1/2". Preview on VHS 
(NTSC), incl. SASE for return. Entry Fee: 
US$35. Contact: Hungarian Multicultural 
Center, Inc.; (972) 225-8053; fax: (972) 308- 
8191; bszechy@yahoo.com; hungarian-multi 
cultural-center.com. 

KANSAS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL Sept 9 16, KS 
Deadline: March 31 ; April 30 (final). The fest is 
a celebration of independent cinema & fea- 
tures a Think! series of socially conscious doc- 
umentaries, experimental works, foreign 
films, & American indies. All films screen in 
beautifully restored theatres operated by the 
Fine Arts Theatre Group in the Kansas City 
area. The Lucid Underground Film Festival of 
shorts w/ a punk tenacity also screens during 
KIFF. Cats: doc, feature, short, experimental. 
Awards: Audience awards; $250 cash prizes 
in each category. Formats: 35mm, DV Cam. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $30; $40 
(final). Contact: Dotty Hamilton; (816) 501- 
3646; info@kansasfilm.com; www.kansas 
film.com. 



LONG ISLAND FILM FESTIVAL, June 21-23, NY 
Deadline: April 30; May 31 (final). Annual com- 
petitive fest screens over 50 features & 
shorts submitted from around the world. 
Cats: feature, short, doc, student, experimen- 
tal, animation. Awards: 1st prizes presented in 
all cats (film & video), w/ cash awards TBA. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 3/4", 1/2", DVD. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $25 (student; to 
15 mm.); $40 (15 to 30 mm); $60 (30-60 mm.); 
$75 (over 60 mm.). Contact: Chris Cooke; 
(631) 669-2717; fax: 853-4888; suffolkfilm 
©yahoo.com; www.lifilm.org. 

LONG ISLAND INT'L FILM EXPO, July 15-21, 
NY. Deadline: May 9. This Festival continues 
to evolve as the premier regional showcases 
for new, innovative works of local & nat'l 
independents. Cats: doc, feature, animation, 
short. Awards: Categorical awards & Jury 
awards. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SR 
VHS. Preview on VHS. Fee: $25 (shorts), $50 
(features). The Bellmore Movies; (516) 572- 
0012; fax: 572-0260; debfilm@optonlme.net; 
www.LonglslandFilm.com. 

LUNAFEST, September-October, CA. 
Deadline: April 30. Fest seeks films by 
women, for women, or about women. Areas 
of interest can mci. culture, diversity of peo- 
ple, adventure, sports, the environment, spiri- 
tuality, inspiration, challenges, relationships & 
breaking barriers. Program will tour up to 100 
venues. Proceeds from fest will benefit The 
Breast Cancer Fund to assist their efforts to 
promote awareness & education of womens' 
health. Films should be no longer than 40 
mm.. Cats: short, doc, feature, student, fami- 
ly, jjnimation. Awards: Cash prizes. Formats: 
1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $15 
made payable to The Breast Cancer Fund. 
Contact: Allison Justice; allison@aspir 
mgheights.com; www.lunabar.com. 

MADCAT WOMEN'S INT'L FILM FESTIVAL 

Sept., CA. Deadline: March 25; May 13 (final). 
MadCat showcases innovative & challenging 
works from around the globe. Fest features 
experimental, avant garde & independent 



works by women of all lengths & genres. 
Works can be produced ANY year. It is the 
fest's goal to expand the notion of women's 
cinema beyond the limitations of films about 
traditional women's issues. All topics/subjects 
will be considered. Founded: 1996. Cats: any 
style or genre. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, super 
8, Beta SR 1/2", Mini-DV Preview on VHS or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $10-$30 (sliding scale, pay 
what you can afford). Contact: Festival; (415) 
436-9523; fax: 934-0642; info@madcatfilmfes 
tival.org; www.madcatfilmfestival.org. 

MAINE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, July 15-24, ME 
Deadline: April 30. A leading New England 
regional film fest w/ an exceptional emphasis 
on mt'l productions. Festival seeks features & 
shorts "shot in Maine or w/ a significant 
Maine focus." Recent fest guests & winners 
of MIFF's Mid-Life Achievement Award incl. 
Sissy Spacek, & Terrence Malick. Founded 
1998. Cats: Feature, Short, doc. Awards 
Audience Award (Best Feature). Formats 
35mm, 3/4", Beta SR 16mm, S-VHS, 1/2", 
Beta, DigiBeta, DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: $35; $45 (final). Contact: MIFF; (207) 
861-8138; fax: 872-5502; info@miff.org; 
www.miff.org. 

MARGARET MEAD FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, 

November 11-16, NY. Deadline: April 30. 
Premiere US fest for nonfiction work, w/ no 
restrictions on sub|ect, length, or yr. of pro- 
duction. Held at the American Museum of 
Natural History, the fest incls. forums & dis- 
cussions w/ filmmakers. Founded: 1977. 
Cats: Short, doc, animation, experimental, 
student, youth media. Awards: No awards, 
some financial assistance & honorarium. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta. Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Festival; (212) 769-5305; fax: 769-5329; 
meadfest@amnh.org; www.amnh.org/mead. 

MOONDANCE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, May 15- 

18, CO. Deadline: April 1 . Moondance encour- 
ages & promotes screenwriters & filmmak- 
ers. Held in Boulder, Colorado, the competion 
is open to all writers & indie filmmakers. Cats: 



April 2005 I The Independent 45 



Feature, Doc, Animation, short, experimental, 
script, music video, student, youth media, 
family, children, TV, any style or genre, radio 
drama, puppetry theatre, lyrics & libretti, TV 
MOW's, TV Episodes, Stage plays. Awards: 
Columbine Award for film, screenplay, stage 
play, or short story that best depicts problems 
or conflicts solved in non-violent manner. 
Spirit of Moondance Awards (for & by women 
all genres & cats), Seahorse Awards (for & by 
men & women, all genres & cats), Dolphin 
Awards (for & by kids & youth). Formats: Beta 
SR DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $25 
Animation; $50 shorts; $75 features. Contact: 
Festival; (303)545-0202; moondanceff 
©aol.com; www.moondancefilmfestival.com. 

NANTUCKET FILM FESTIVAL, June 15-19, MA 
Deadline: April 1 . Fest focuses on screenwrit- 
ers & their craft, presents feature films, short 
films, docs, staged readings, Q&A w/ film- 
makers, panel discussions, the "Morning 
Coffee With" series, Late Night Storytelling, 
Teen's View on NFF Program & NBC 
Screenwriter's Tribute. Fest's goal is to "fos- 
ter a creative film industry community of 
screenwriters, filmmakers, directors & pro- 
ducers where partnerships are formed & 
deals are made." Cats: any style or genre, 
script, short, feature. Awards: Tony Cox 
Award for Screenwriting Competition, Moby 
Dick Award for Best Screenwriting in a 
Feature Film & Short Film, Audience Awards 
for Best Feature & Short Film, Best 
Storytelling in a Doc Feature & Teen's View on 
NFF Short Film Award. Formats: 35mm, 
Video, 16mm, DigiBeta. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $40 (features); $25 (shorts, 35 mm. 
or less); $45 (screenplays). Contact: (212) 708- 
1278; fax: 226-5054; info@nantucketfilm festi 
val.org; www.nantucketfilmfestival.org. 

NEXTFRAME: UFVAS TOURING FESTIVAL OF 
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT FILM & VIDEO 

Oct., PA. Deadline: April 30; May 31 (final). 
Fest was founded in 1993 to survey & exhibit 
the very best in current student film & video 
worldwide. Emphasizes independence, cre- 
ativity & new approaches to visual media. All 



entries must have been created by students 
enrolled in a college, univ., or graduate school 
at time of prod. & should have been complet- 
ed no earlier than May of previous 2 yrs. All 
works prescreened by panel of film/video- 
makers; finalists sent to judges. About 30 
works showcased each year. All works pre- 
miere at annual conference of Univ. Film & 
Video Assoc. (UFVA), in August. Year-long int'l 
tour of finalists begins after premiere. Tour 
travels to major universities & art centers 
across the US & around the globe. Past int'l 
venues have incl. Chile, Canada, Japan, 
Mexico, New Zealand & Portugal. UFVA is an 
int'l org. dedicated to arts & sciences of film & 
video & development of motion pictures as 
medium of communication. Founded: 1993. 
Cats: Doc, Experimental, Animation, Feature, 
student, short. Awards: Over $15,000 in 
prizes; 1 st & 2nd place prizes awarded in each 
cat plus a Director's Choice Prize. Craft com- 
petition, incl. prizes for film editing, cine- 
matography & screenwriting. Formats: 
16mm, Beta SP (NTSC), Beta SP. Preview on 
VHS (PAL/SECAM okay for preview only), 
DVD. Entry Fee: $25; $20 (UFVA members). 
Free for int'l entries. Contact: Festival; 
(215) 923-3532; fax: 204-6740; nextfes 
t@temple.edu; www.temple.edu/nextframe. 

OCEAN CITY FILM FESTIVAL, June 3-6, NJ. 
Deadline: March 1; April 1 (final). Cats: fea- 
ture, doc, short, animation, student. Preview 
on VHS. Entry Fee: $25-$50. Contact: Festival; 
(609) 646-1640; admm@oceancityfilmfest 
ival.com; www.oceancityfilmfestival.com. 

PHILADELPHIA INT'L GAY & LESBIAN FILM 
FESTIVAL, July 7-18, PA. Deadline: April 23. 
Competitive fest screening int'l features, doc- 
umentaries, & shorts, w/ cash prizes for both 
jury & audience awards. Cats: feature, short, 
doc, children. Awards: Audience Award, Best 
Feature ($1,000); Audience Award, Gay Male 
Short ($500); Audience Award, Lesbian Short 
($500); Jury Award, Best Feature ($500); Jury 
Award, Doc ($500); Jury Award, Lesbian Short 
($250); Jury Award, Gay Male Short ($250). 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 



Festival; (215)733-0608 ext. 249; fax: 733- 
0668; rmurray@phillyfests.com; www.philly 
fests.com. 

Q CINEMA: FORT WORTH'S GAY & LESBIAN 
FILM FESTIVAL, May 19-22, TX. Deadline: April 
1 5. The mission of this Festival is to provide a 
voice for gays, lesbians, bisexuals & trangen- 
dered persons by presenting films, videos & 
live programs that not only represent the 
diversity of our community but educate, 
enlighten & entertain us all. Cats: feature, doc, 
short. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, DVD, Digital 
Video, Beta SP, 1/2". Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: None. Contact: Q Cinema; (817) 
462-3368; fax: 390-7257; tcamp® 
startelegram.com; www.qcinema.org. 

REEL VENUS FILM FESTIVAL, July 20-22, NY 
Deadline: April 15; May 13 (final). A showcase 
of Film/Video Shorts, 30 min. & under, all gen- 
res, directed & written by emerging & estab- 
lished women filmmakers from the United 
States & Abroad. Founded: 2003. Cats: any 
style or genre, short. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
Beta SP, DigiBeta, 1/2", DVD. Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $15; $20 (final). 
Contact: Melissa Fowler, Festival Director; 
info@reelvenus.com; www.reelvenus.com. 

RESFEST DIGITAL FILM FESTIVAL, Sept - Dec , 
NY, CA, DC, IL, MA, OR. Deadline: April 15; 
May 13 (final). Annual nat'l/int'l touring fest 
seeks short films/videos exploring the dynam- 
ic interplay of film, art, music & design. The 
Fest showcases the best of the year's shorts, 
features, music videos, & animation along w/ 
screenings, live music events, parties, panel 
discussions, & tech demos. The underlying 
guideline for submissions is Innovation. The 
previous years the fest toured 30 plus cities 
int'l I y. Cats: Doc, Experimental, Feature, 
Animation, music video, short. Awards: 
Audience Choice Award w/ cash prizes. 
Formats: DV, Beta SP, 35mm, DigiBeta (pre- 
ferred), Mini DV (NTSC). Preview on VHS , 
DVD, Beta SP (NTSC), Mini DV (NTSC). Entry 
Fee: $20; $25 (final). Contact: Festival; film 
maker@resfest.com; www.resfest.com. 



46 The Independent I April 2005 



SAN DIEGO ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 29- 
Oct. 2, CA. Deadline: April 1; May 14 (final). 
Annual competitive test seeks short-to fea- 
ture-length narratives, docs, experimental, 
animation & mixed-genre works made by or 
about Asian & Pacific Americans. Cats: fea- 
ture, doc, experimental, animation, mixed 
genre works, short, music video. Awards: 
Best Feature, Best Short, Best Doc, Best 
Experimental, Best Animation, Best Music 
Video, Jury award. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP. 
Preview on VHS (NTSC only). Entry Fee: $25; 
$35 (final). Contact: SDAFF; (858) 699-2717; 
entries@sdaff.org; www.sdaff.org. 

STONY BROOK FILM FESTIVAL, July 21-30, NY 
Deadline: May 2. Bringing the best in inde- 
pendent film to a discerning, film-loving com- 
munity. Over 13,000 attending. Independent 
features & shorts in competition; premieres, 
special screenings, filmmaker panels & recep- 
tions. Cats: Feature, Short, Doc, Animation. 
Awards: Grand Prize, Jury Feature, Jury Short, 
Jury Directing, & Audience Choice Awards. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: Alan Inkles; (631) 
632-7235; fax: 632-7354; filmfestival@stony- 
brookfilmfestival.com; www.stonybrookfilm 
festival.com. 

SUBMERGE INT L ART & ENVIRONMENT 
FESTIVAL, June-Oct, NY. Deadline: April 1. 
Fest mission is "presenting film, video & pho- 
tography which reflects our concerns about 
our fragile aquatic environments, all about 
Water." Fest is presented each yr. at various 
venues incl. outdoor & theatrical screenings, 
Gallery Exhibits & Public Art Installations. 
Founded: 2002. Cats: any style or genre, doc, 
short, experimental. Awards: Best 
Photography; Best Subject. Formats: Mini-DV, 
DVD, Beta, 1/2". Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
$20. Contact: Festival; urbandivers@urban 
divers.org; www.urbandivers.org. 

TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 2-5, CO 
Deadline: May 1 (early), June 15 (final). Annual 
fest, held in a Colorado mountain town, is a 
Labor Day weekend celebration commemo- 



rating the art of filmmaking: honoring the 
great masters of cinema, discovering the rare 
& unknown, bringing new works by the 
world's greatest directors & the latest in inde- 
pendent film. Cats: feature, short, student, 
any style or genre, doc, experimental. 
Awards: None. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, 3/4", 
1/2", S-VHS, Beta, Beta SP, DigiBeta, Hi8, DV, 
DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $35 (19 
min. or less); $55 (20-39 mm.); $75 (40-59 
mm.); $95 (60 mm. & over); $25 (student 
films, any length). Contact: Bill Pence / Tom 
Luddy; (603) 433-9202; fax: 433-9206; 
mail@telluridefilmfestival.org; www.telluride 
filmfestival.org. 

WOODS HOLE FILM FESTIVAL, July 30-Aug 6, 
MA. Deadline: April 1 ; May 1 5 (final). A show- 
case for independent film w/ special empha- 
sis on regional filmmakers & cinematography. 
Founded: 1991. Cats: feature, doc, short, ani- 
mation, experimental, script. Awards: Best of 
the Fest, Best feature: drama, comedy, docu- 
mentary; Short: drama, comedy, animation, 
documentary, experimental; Director's Choice 
Award for Cinematography. Formats: 16mm, 
35mm, Beta SP, DVD, DigiBeta. Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: features: $40, $50 
(final); shorts (under 40 mm.): $20, $30 (final). 
Contact: JC Bouvier; (508) 495-3456; 
mfo@woodsholefilmfestival.org; www. wood 
sholefilmfestival.org. 

ZEITGEIST INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, June 1 3 / July 
1 1 / Aug. 8, CA. Deadline: April 30. ZIFF is an 
"irreverent" fest, held in San Fran in the back- 
yard of the Zeitgeist Bar (seats 300). Works 
can be any genre "that hold the attention of 
the_ayerage bar patron". Cats: short (15 mm 
or less). Formats: 16mm, 1/2", DV, DVD. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: B Berzins; Call (415) 786-9967; Or 
email ikooking@yahoo.com; www. over 
cookedcine ma.com. 

INTERNATIONAL 

AFRICA IN THE PICTURE, Sept 3-14, 
Netherlands. Deadline: April 15. Africa in the 



picture is one of the oldest African film fests 
in Europe. The bi-annual fest is held in 
Amsterdam & a number of other cities in the 
Netherlands, featuring works from Africa & 
the African Diaspora. Founded: 1987. Cats: 
feature, doc, short. Preview on VHS 
PAL/NTSC. Entry Fee: none. Contact: Sasha 
Dees; (212) 864-5921; deessasha@cs.com; 
www.africainthepicture.nl. 

ANTIMATTER: UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL, 

Sept. 16-24, Canada. Deadline: April 15; May 
31 (final). Annual mt'l fest seeks "imaginative, 
volatile, entertaining & critical" films & videos. 
Antimatter is "dedicated to cinema as art vs. 
product, regardless of the subversive or dan- 
gerous nature of its content, stylistic concerns 
or commercial viability". Selected works may 
be included in upcoming int'l tours. Industrial, 
commercial & studio products ineligible. Max 
30 mm., completed w/in past two years. 
Founded: 1998. Cats: any style or genre, 
short. Formats: 1/2", 16mm, DVD, Mini-DV, 
Super 8. Preview on VHS, DVD. Entry Fee: 
$10; $20 (final). Contact: Todd Eacrett, 
Director; (250) 385-3327; fax: 385-3327; 
mfo@antimatter.ws; www.antimatter.ws. 

INT'L FESTIVAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL CINEMA 
& VIDEO, May 31 -June 5, Brazil. Deadline: 
April 15. The objective of FICA is to divulge, 
show, & award prizes to long, medium & 
short audiovisual productions, fiction, feature 
films or documentary, focusing on environ- 
mental issues, produced anywhere in the 
world. Films must be produced after Jan 1 of 
previous year. Founded: 1999. Cats: feature, 
doc, short, TV, animation. Formats: 16mm, 
35mm, Beta SP Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: Eudaldo 
Guimaraes, Executive Manage; 01 1 55 62 229 
3436; fax: 224-2642; fica@fica.art.br; 
www.fica.art.br. 

KARLOVY VARY INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, July 1-9, 
Czech Republic. Deadline: April 15. Annual 
FIAPF-recognized competitive fest, founded 
in 1 946. This fest is intended for lay as well as 
professional public & it offers to its visitors a 
carefully composed program, high-quality 



April 2005 I The Independent 47 



background, & a wide amount of services. 
Founded: 1946. Cats: Doc. Feature, Short. 
Awards: Grand Prize of Crystal Globe, Special 
Jury Award, Best Director Prize, Best 
Actor/Actress & Lifetime Achievement 
Award. Formats: 35mm, 16mm. Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: KVIFF; (011) 
420 221 41 1 01 1 ; fax: 420 221 41 1 033: pro 
gram@kviff.com: www.kviff.com. 

MELBOURNE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, July 20- 
Aug. 7, Australia. Deadline: March 18 (shorts): 
April 15 (features). Established in 1952, the 
fest is the oldest established Film in the 
southern hemishphere & one of Australia's 
oldest running arts events. Screened in some 
of Melbourne's most celebrated cinemas & 
theaters, the fest comprises an eclectic mix of 
outstanding filmmaking from around the 
world. The fest is a showcase for the latest 
developments in Australian & mt'l filmmaking, 
offering audiences a wide range of features & 
shorts, encompassing fiction, documentaries, 
animation & experimental films w/ a program 
of more than 350 films from over 40 coun- 
tries. Highlights incl. the Int'l Short Film 
Awards, spolights on filmmakers, genres & 
retros. Founded: 1952. Cats: feature, doc, 
animation, experimental, student, short. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, , Beta SP, DVD. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $40. 
Contact: Juliana Chin, Program Assistant: 01 1 
61 3 417 2011; fax: 417 3804; miff@mel 
bournefilmfestival.com.au; www.melbourne 
filmfestival.com.au. 

MILANO FILM FESTIVAL, September 10-19, 
Italy. Deadline: May 31. Annual fest invites 
features films & shorts (under 45 mm.) from 
anyone who'd like to "invent, build, & destroy 
new ideas of cinema." Cats: any style or 
genre, feature, doc, short, animation, experi- 
mental, music video, student. Awards: 
Awards incl. Apnle Award. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, 8mm, DV, Beta SP, 1/2". Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: none. Contact: Festival; 01 1 



39 02 713 613; info@milanofilmfestival.it; 
www.milanofilmfestival.it. 

NICKEL INDEPENDENT FILM & VIDEO 
FESTIVAL, July 6-9, Canada. Deadline: March 
15; April 15 (final). The fest dubs itself as a 
"fest created by filmmakers for filmmakers". 
In addition to screenings of films & videos, the 
fest stages actor's workshops, Q & A w/ film- 
makers, showcases local theatre pieces & 
local music & readings. Founded: 2001. Cats: 
feature, doc, short, music video, any style or 
genre. Awards: Awards in various cats. 
Formats: Beta SP, 16mm. Preview on VHS or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $10 (shorts); $20 (features). 
Contact: Roger Maunder; (709) 722-3456; 
nickelfestival@yahoo.ca; www.nickelfesti 
val.com. 

PESARO FILM FESTIVAL, June 24-July 2, Italy 
Deadline: May 7. Annual fest's "New 
Cinema" program. Production req. Italian pre- 
miere, completion after Jan. 1 of previous 
year. If not English or French spoken or subti- 
tled, enclose dialogue list in either language. 
Founded: 1964. Cats: feature, short, doc, 
experimental, animation features. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Betacam, 3/4". Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Fondazione 
Pesaro Nuovo Cinema; 01 1 39 06 445 6643; 
fax: 49 1 1 63; pesarofilmfest@mclink.it; 
www.pesarofilmfest.it. 

PLANET FOCUS: TORONTO ENVIRONMENTAL 
FILM FESTIVAL, Sept. 28-Oct. 2, Canada. 
Deadline: April 1; May 2. Fest pays special 
consideration to works that push the bound- 
aries of the accepted notions of 'environ- 
ment'; works that present cultural perspec- 
tives that are under-represented in Canada & 
works that will have their world or Canadian 
premiere at fest. Cats: any style or genre. 
Entry Fee: $15; $20 (final). Contact: Festival; 
(416) 531-1769; info@planetinfocus.org; 
www.planetinfocus.org. 



SPLICE THIS! THE TORONTO ANNUAL SUPER 8 
FILM FESTIVAL, June 17-19, Canada. 
Deadline: April 15. Non-competitive fest dedi- 
cated to the exhibition of small gauge films, 
showcasing a wide range of work by first- 
time filmmakers & seasoned super-eighters. 
All entries must be shot on Super 8. Video will 
be screened only if original print isn't avail, or 
if the film was edited on video. 16mm blow- 
ups of super 8 are also considered. Cats: any 
style or genre. Formats: super 8, silent super 
8, super 8 w/ live accomampaniment, super 8 
w/ sound, super8 w/ audiocassette, Super 8 
work on: 1/2", DVD, Mini-DV. Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: $5. Contact: Festival; 
splicethis@yahoo.com; www.splicethis.com. 

SUNNY SIDE OF THE DOC MARKET, June 29- 
July 2, France. Deadline: April 1 5. Annual mar- 
ket brings together ind. producers, distribu- 
tors, commissioning editors, heads of TV pro- 
gramming depts & buyers from all over the 
world. Attended by some 539 co. from 35 
countries, 183 buyers & commissioning edi- 
tors & 120 TV channels. Market provides ops 
for project development & meeting partners 
w/ Side-by-Side sessions. Founded: 1990. 
Cats: doc. Preview on VHS. Contact: Pole 
Media Belle de Mai ; 01 1 33 4 95 04 44 80; 
fax: 33 4 91 84 38 34; email contact@sun 
nysideofthedoc.com; www.sunnysideofthe 
doc.com. 

WELLINGTON FILM FESTIVAL/AUCKLAND 
INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, July, New Zealand. 
Deadline: Mid April. Noncompetitive fest, w/ a 

I core program of 120 features (& as many 
shorts), fest simultaneously presents 

I Auckland & Wellington Film Festivals & pro- 
grams that travel to cities of Dunedin & 
Christchurch & other cities throughout New 
Zealand. Founded: 1972. Cats: Feature, Short. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP. Preview on 

; VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Bill Gosden; 
011 64 4 385 0162; fax: 801 7304; 
entnes@nzff.co.nz; www.nzff.co.nz. 



48 The Independent I April 2005 



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BUY I RENT I SELL 

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE AT LOW PRICES, NO 
RESTRICTIONS: Offering a High Quality, 
Extensive Library of Public Domain Footage 
spanning the 20th Century at prices inde- 
pendent producers can afford. Footage 
Farm (888) 270-1414; www.footage 
farm.com. 

CAMERA RENTALS FOR LOW BUDGETS 

Production Junction is owned & operated 
by a fellow mdpendent. Cameras, Lights, 
Mies, Decks, etc. Equipment & prices at 
www.ProductionJunction.com. 
Email:Chris@ProductionJunction.com 
or call (917) 288-9000. www.Production 
Junction.com. 

PROFESSIONAL VIDEOCAMERA SONY DSR 
570 with 3 batteries- near mint condition, 
w/case. Native 16x9, DVCAM or mini DV. 
$12,750. 907-677-7970. mkatzke@gci.net. 

UNION SQUARE AREA STAGE RENTALS, pro 

duction space, Digibeta, Beta SP, DVCAM, 
mini-DV, hi-8, 24-R projectors, grip, lights, 
dubs, deck and camera rentals. 



Uncompressed Avid and FCP suites, too. 
Production Central (212) 631-0435. 

DISTRIBUTION 

AQUARIUS HEALTH CARE VIDEOS is the lead 
ing Distributor/Producer of documentary 
films on health care issues. Our programs 
are educational and inspirational and focus 
on life challenging situations. We are cur- 
rently seeking additional films to add to our 
award winning collection. Our strong, tar- 
geted marketing program will increase 
awareness and sales for you. Please send 
a preview vhs or DVD to Aquarius Health 
Care Videos, 18 North Main Street, 
Sherbom, MA 01770 or call (888) 440- 
2963, LBK@aquariusproductions.com. 
www.aquariusproductions.com. 

FANLIGHT PRODUCTIONS 20+ years as an 
industry leader! Join more than 100 award- 
winning film & video producers. Send us 
your new works on healthcare, mental 
health, aging, disabilities, and related 
issues. (800) 937-41 13; www.fanlight.com. 
sandy@fanlight.com. 



THE CINEMA GUILD: leading film/video/multi- 
media distributor, seeks new doc, fiction, 
educational & animation programs for dis- 
tribution. Send videocassettes or discs for 
evaluation to: The Cinema Guild, 130 
Madison Ave., 2nd fl., New York, NY 
10016; (212) 685-6242; mfo@CIN 
EMAGUILD.COM or ask for brochure via 
hkemmer@cinemaguild.com. www.cin 
emaguild.com. 

FREELANCE 

35MM & 16MM PROD. PKG. W/ DP. Complete 
package w/ DP's own Am 35BL, 16SR, 
HMIs, lighting, dolly, Tulip crane, camjib, 
DAT, grip & 5-ton truck and more. Call for 
reel: Tom Agnello (201) 741-4367; road 
toindy@aol.com. 10740 

ACADEMY, EMMY NOMINATED EDITOR 

(HOOP DREAMS) seeks edit jobs: docs, 
fiction; film, video; experimental, traditional 
TV. Cut on Avid, FCP, flatbeds. Also con- 
sulting, cut reviews, etc. No sweat equity 
or deferrals; fdm@fmarxfilm.com. 
www.fmarxfilm.com. 



April 2005 I The Independent 49 








The AIVF Guide to 

Film & Video 
Distributors 

edited by Rania Richardson 

What You'll Find: 

Up-to-date profiles of close to 200 
distributors, supplemented by "how 
to" articles, selected reprints from 
The Independent, and in-depth inter- 
views with over 20 distributors. 
Published to order, ensuring the most 
current information that's available. 



Order online at 




ANDREW DUNN, Director of 

Photography/camera operator Arn35 BL3, 
Aaton XTRprod S16, Sony DVCAM. 
Experience in features, docs, TV & industri- 
als. Credits: Dog Run, Strays, Working 
Space/Working Light. (212) 477-0172; 
AndrewDI 58@aol.com. 

ARE YOU STUCK? Fernanda Rossi, script & 
documentary doctor, specializes in narra- 
tive structure in all stages of the filmmaking 
process, including story development, 
fundraising trailers and post-production. 
She has doctored over 30 films and is the 
author of "Trailer Mechanics." For private 
consultations and workshops visit 
www.documentarydoctor.com or write to 
info@documentarydoctor.com. 

CAMERAMAN/STEADICAM OPERATOR 

Owner Steadicam, Am 35 BL, Am 16 SR, 
Beta SR Stereo TC Nagra 4, TC Fostex PD- 
4 DAT, lighting packages to shoot features, 
music videos, commercials, etc. Call Mik 
Cribben for info & reel, (212) 929-7728 in 
NY or 800-235-271 3 in Miami. 

COMPOSER: Acclaimed composer and film 
music producer Richard Martinez will work 
with you to add the music that will give 
your film its final weight. His Academy 
award winning experience (Frida) and tech- 
nology expertise of every facet of music 



production, will make your film or doc 
shine. CLASSY YET AFFORDABLE. Credits 
and demos at: www.lightbodymusic.com 
Light Body Music, Inc. 914-739-9410. New 
York area, cristina@lightbodymusic.com. 

COMPOSER MIRIAM CUTLER loves to collab- 
orate: docs, features. Lost In La 
Mancha/IFC, Scout's Honor, Licensed To 
Kill, Pandemic: Facing Aids/HBO, Indian 
Point/HBO, Positively Naked/HBO, Stolen 
Childhoodsa, Amy's & more. (310) 398- 
5985 mir.cut@verizon.net. www.minam 
cutler.com. 

COMPOSER: Original music for your film or 
video project. Will work with any budget. 
Complete digital studio. NYC area. Demo 
CD upon request. Call Ian O'Brien: (201) 
222-2638; iobrien@bellatlantic.net. 

COMPOSER: Original music for your produc- 
tion, young but experienced company, 
currently scoring Afghani and Vietnam 
documentarys amongst others. Looking 
for varied work, UK based, pete 
©audioreel.com. www.audioreel.com. 

DP WITH ARRI SR SUPER 16/16MM and 35BL- 
2 camera packages. Expert lighting and 
camerawork for independent films, music 
videos, etc. Superb results on a short 
schedule and low budget. Great prices. 



50 The Independent I April 2005 



Willing to travel. Matthew 617-244-6730. 

DIGITAL DP/CAMERA OPERATOR with a Sony 
DSR-500WSL/1 camera package. Electr- 
onic Cinematography, documentary, inde- 
pendent friendly, reasonable rates. Full 
Screen/Wide Screen-(4:3/16:9). For reel, 
rate & info call: (516) 783-5790. ProCam 
NY@hotmail.com. 

FREELANCE CAMERA GROUP IN NYC seeking 
professional cameramen and soundmen w/ 
solid Betacam experience to work w/ wide 
array of clients. If qualified, contact COA at 
(212) 505-1911. Must have documen- 
tary/news samples or reel. 

GRANTWRITING/FUNDRAISING: Research, 
writing & strategy (for production, distribu- 
tion, exhibition & educational media proj- 
ects). Successful proposals to NYSCA, 
NEA, NEH, ITVS, Soros, Rockefeller, Lila 
Acheson Wallace Foundation. Fast writers, 
reasonable rates. Wanda Bershen, (212) 
598-0224; www.reddiaper.com. 

LOCATION SOUND: Over 25 yrs sound exp 
w/ timecode Nagra & DAT, quality mics & 
mixers. Reduced rates for low-budget 
projects. Harvey & Fred Edwards, Call (518) 
677-5720; or (819) 459-2680; or email 
films@worldnet.att.net; www.edwards 
films.com. 



MISCELLANEOUS 

INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF HORROR Call 
for Entries!! SciFi/Docs/Fantasy/Animation/ 
Suspense Deadline August 15th, 2005. For 
entry forms visit www.festivalofhorror.com 
or send a SASE to PMB 332 907 W 
Marketview Dr. Suite 10 Champaign, IL 
61822 USA info@festivalofhorror.com. 
www.festivalofhorror.com. 

OPPORTUNITIES I GIGS 

50 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR VIDEO BUSINESS. 
FREE REPORT. Grow a successful video busi- 
ness in Legal, Wedding, Corporate, TV 
and more, http://videouniversity.com 
/50web.htm. 

DHTV, a progressive, nonprofit community 
media center and tv station in St. Louis, 
MO seeks works by indie producers. Half 
hour and 1 hour lenghts. S-VHS accept- 
ed, DVD preferred. Nonexclusive rights 
release upon acceptance. No pay but expo- 
sure to 60,000 cable households. Contact 
Mariah Richardson, dhTV, 625 N. euclid, St. 
Louis, Mo 63108, 314.361.8870 x230, 
mariah@dhtv.org. 

(VISITING) ASSISTANT/ ASSOCIATE PROF, in 

Documentary Video Production Communi- 
cation Department at The University of the 




Your documentary can move audiences to 
take action for social change, the Independent 
Producers' Outreach toolkit shows you how. 

WHAT YOU GET 

• Interactive Budget 

• Resource Binder 

• Case Studies 

• Sample Proposals 

• Interactive Worksheets 

• Phone Consultation 



;v 



MEMBER DISCOUNT! 
www.mediarights.org/toolkit 
email: toolkit@mediarights.org 



■*. 



More Production 
and More Central! 



Get it all done at 



production central 

SHOOT • EDIT • DUPLICATE • DVD • 24P 

• Two Fully Equipped Soundstages with Grid and Cyc 

plus Lighting/Grip/Camera/Sound Equipment 

• Video Duplication 

PAUNTSC Transcoding /Rim to DVD or Video 

• CD / DVD Duplication 

Full Color Printing on Discs / Authoring (All Regions) 

• Avid / Final Cut Pro G5 Edit Rooms 

With or Without Editors 

• DigiBeta, Beta SP, DVCAM Decks 

Projector and Plasma Screen Rentals 

• Full Production and Creative Services 

Commercials, T.V., Films, Industrials, Events 

Say bye-bye to the expense and time of 
messengers, cabs, deliveries, trains, busses, etc.! 



573 broadway, suite 205, new york, ny 10003 

tel (212) 631-0435 -fax (212) 631-0436 

web: www.prodcentral.com 

email: david@prodcentral.com 



April 2005 I The Independent 51 



mercerMEDIA 

212.627. 8070 

Sound design, editing and mixing 
VO recording, ADR, and foley 
Original music and sound effects 
Non-linear video editing 
Archival and Restoration 
DVD authoring 



RECENT PROJECTS INCLUDE: 

Nanette Burstein & Jordan Roberts 
Film School 

Bill Plympton 
Hair High 

Bobby Abate & Peggy Ahwesh 
Certain Women 

Dtane Bonder 
Closer to Heaven 

Tareque Masud 
The Clay Bird 

MERCERMEDIA.COM 



standb 

program 



Standby ptpvides artists & 
independent, makers access to 
the latest media arts services at 
top-rated posjt-production studios 
at discounted rates. 

Audio, Film & Video 
Post Production Services 

Broadcast Quality Editing 
^Digital Effects 
Sound Design & Mixing 
Film Processing 
Film to Tape Transfer 
Conversion & Duplication 
DVD Authoring 
Tape Preservation Services 
Technical Consultation 

Serving the community for 
over 20 Years! 

www.standby.org 

info@standby.org 
212.206.7858 



Arts invites applications for a one-year 
appointment starting Fall 2005. Required: 
professional experience in documentary 
film/video production with grounding in 
social science, humanities, media studies, 
communication, or international studies. 
www.uarts.edu/con tact/jobs. cfm. Send 
CV, statement of approach to teaching, 
description of professional interests, 
contact info of 3 prof, references, portfolio 
limited to 2 works with SASE to: Communi- 
cation Search, Office of Personnel, UArts, 
320 S. Broad St., Philadelphia PA 19102 
EOE. 

PREPRODUCTION I 
DEVELOPMENT 

SCRIPT/ STORY/ CREATIVE CONSULTANT 
MAUREEN NOLAN w/ 8 years Miramax 
experience, script/story/creative consultant 
Maureen Nolan offers a full range of con- 
sulting services for writers and filmmakers. 
Script consults, coaching, story develop- 
ment, rewrites, etc. 212-663-9389 or 917- 
620-6502. 

POSTPRODUCTION 

AUDIO POST PRODUCTION: Full service audio 
post-production facility. Mix-to-picture, 
ADR, voice-over, sound design & editing. 
Features, shorts, docs, TV & Radio. 
Contact Andy, All Ears Inc: (718) 399-6668 
(718) 496-9066 andy@allearspost.com . 



BRODSKY & TREADWAY film-to-tape trans- 
fers, wet-gate, scene-by-scene, reversal 
film only. Camera original Regular 8mm, 
Super 8, and 16mm. For appointment call 
(978) 948-7985. 

NEGATIVE CUTTING FOR FEATURES, short 
films etc. Expert conforming of 35mm, 
Super 1 6 or 1 6mm negative to workprint or 
Avid cut list. Superb quality work and 
absolutely clean cuts. Great prices. 
Matthew: 617-244-6730; mwdp@att.net. 

PRODUCTION TRANSCRIPTS Verbatim tran 
scription service for documentaries, jour- 
nalists, film and video. Low prices & flat 
rates based on tape length, www.produc- 
tiontranscripts.com for details or call: (888) 
349-3022. 

WEB 

POST YOUR FILM TRAILER, DEMO REEL. VIDEO 

resume on your website and/or send them 
via E-mail to any e-mail address. Great mar- 
keting tool! $.05 per viewing minute. Call 
or e-mail Tom Aguilar at (480) 459-1 1 14 or 
visit my website for more info. 

WEB SITE DESIGNER: Create multimedia 
web sites, integrating video, sound, and 
special effects, that promote your films 
and/or your company, www.sabineprobst- 
design.com. Info: Sabine Probst, phone: 
646-226-7881, email: sabine@spromo.net. 
jiggaproductions@excite.com. sabineprob 
stdesing.com. 



52 The Independent I April 2005 



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COMPETITIONS 

2005 SANTA BARBARA SCRIPT COMPETITION 

seeks submissions. Entry fee $40. Grand 
Prize - $2000 Option, First Prize S750-AII 
winners will also receive screenwriting- 
related books, materials and or software. 
Special Cash Award for Regional Writer to 
be awarded to a South Coast Resident 
(Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo 
counties in California). Regular submission 
deadline is June 30th and late is July 31. 
Contact: Geoff@santabarbarascript.com or 
visit www.santabarbarascript.com. 

BUSINESS FILMS ELAN announces new 
screenplay contest: The India Screen 2005 
$500 - $1000 Short & Feature Screenplay 
Contest. Deadline: April 30, 2005. Entry is 
free and winning films will be slotted for 
production. For more information and sub- 
mission guidelines, please go to: 
www.businessfilm.com/businessfilme 
Ian. html. 

CONFERENCES WORKSHOPS 

GLOBAL ENTERTAINMENT & MEDIA SUMMIT 

2005: New York City: May 14-15, 2005. A 
lively and engaging forum of people with 
vision from the independent and main- 
stream music, film, video and multimedia 
worlds of the entertainment, media, and 
communications industries. People con- 
nect with people, exchanging ideas and 
creating projects in a context of innovation, 
reinvention, and possibility. Together, this 
community is proactively effecting new 



ways to achieve sustainable careers and 
the direction of the revolution now taking 
place in marketing and distribution. For 
more information visit www.globalenter 
tainmentnetwork.com 

THE EXPERIMENTAL TELEVISION CENTER 
INTERNATIONAL RESIDENCY 2005 is a collab- 
orative video and sonic arts course, spon- 
sored by the Institute for Electronic Arts 
(IEA) and accredited through the School of 
Art and Design at Alfred University, for pro- 
fessionals and both undergraduate and 
graduate students May 25 - June 5, 2005 . 
Activities include daily technical lectures on 
equipment operation, with lab times for 
independent and collaborative art-making. 
Registration is limited. There is a fee. For 
additional information and registration con- 
tact Pam Hawkins hawkinsp@alfred.edu. 

RESOURCES FUNDS 

FILM FORUM, a non-profit cinema, accepts 
applications from filmmakers in need of fis- 
cal sponsorship. Film Forum retains 5% of 
all funds received on behalf of the filmmak- 
er from funding sources. To be considered, 
please send a letter of introduction along 
with a project narrative to: Film Forum 
Fiscal Sponsorship Program 209 West 
Houston Street New York, NY 10014. 
Please email Dominick for more informa- 
tion at Dominick@filmforum.org 



KQED-TV IN SAN FRANCISCO provides in-kind 
postproduction assistance to a number of 
independent projects each year. Subject 
must be compelling & of interest to 



KQED's viewers, or attract new audiences. 
Material must pass technical evaluation for 
broadcast quality. Producer must supply 
rough cut for review. KQED also takes on a 
number of co-productions each year. For 
more info, call (415) 553-2859. 



LINCS provides matching funds up to 
$100,000 to partnerships between public 
TV stations and independents. Deadline: 
May 26, 2005. Please visit www.itvs.org 
for more information. 



THE CHARLES AND LUCILLE KING FOUNDA- 
TION has established several ongoing spon- 
sorship, grant and scholarship programs, 
including: Undergraduate Scholarship 
Program awarding up to $5000 in scholar- 
ships to undergraduate students majoring 
in television, film and related media fields, 
the NYU Heinemann Award of $10,000 to 
an outstanding film/video senior undergrad- 
uate at New York University, a USC Post 
Production Award of an annual $10,000 
award toward the completion of an out- 
standing film/video project by a graduate 
student in the MFA program at the 
University of Southern California, and the 
UCLA Post Production Award, giving an 
annual $10,000 award toward the comple- 
tion of an outstanding film/video project by 
a graduate student in the MFA program at 
the University of California, Los Angeles. 
Deadline: April 15, 2005. For more informa- 
tion, visit: www.kingfoundation.org. 



THE FUND FOR JEWISH DOCUMENTARY FILM- 
MAKING offers grants up to $50,000 for 



April 2005 I The Independent 53 



vn^b^osTPROTiLteVidN 



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FINALCUT PRO 



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EXPERIENCED EDITORS AVAILABLE 



OUTPOSTEDIT.COM 



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completion of original doc films & videos 
that interpret Jewish history, culture & 
identity to diverse public audiences. 
Applicants must be U.S. citizens or perma- 
nent residents. Priority given to works-in- 
progress addressing critical issues, can be 
completed within 1 year of award & have 
broadcast potential. Deadline April 5, 2005. 
For more information, visit: www.jewiscul 
ture.org 

MICROCINEMAS SCREENINGS 

CINEMARENO a year-round festival of films. 
Monthly screenings showcase independ- 
ent films and videos. Formats: 16mm, 
Beta-SR Mini-DV. Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry fee: $20; fee waived for AIVF mem- 
bers. Entry form & instructions at www.cin- 
emareno.org. Contact: Cinemareno, PO 
Box 5372, Reno, NV 89513. Entry form and 
guidelines at: www.cinemareno.org. 

MICROCINEMAS INDEPENDENT EXPOSURE 
2005, an ongoing microcinema screening 
program of international short films, videos 
& digital works has been presented hun- 
dreds of times in 35 countries and 
Antarctica and 2005 is its tenth season. 
Seeking short video, film & digital media 
submissions of 15 mm. or fewer on an 
ongoing basis for the ongoing screening 
and touring program. Artists qualify for a 
nonexclusive distribution deal, incl. addi- 
tional license fees for DVD sales. Looking 
for short narrative, alternative, humorous, 
dramatic, erotic, animation, etc. Works 
selected may continue on to nat'l & int'l 
venues for additional screenings. Submit 
DVD or VHS (NTSC/PAL) labeled w/ name, 
title, length, phone # & any support materi- 
als, incl. photos. Submissions will not be 
returned. Contact: Joel S. Bachar, 
Microcinema International, 531 Utah St., 



San Francisco, CA 94110; info@microcine 
ma.com; www.microcinema.com. 

TOURING PROGRAMS 

FREE FORM FILM FESTIVAL is a year-round 
touring event created by loaf-i.com and 
inner mission productions is now taking 
submissions. Seeking films/videos of all 
formats and genres (but please submit on 
NTSC VHS for initial consideration). The 
FFFF brings an eclectic collection of inno- 
vative films to cities and towns across the 
United States. Enter now to be considered 
for our West Coast tour in September. 
Enter anytime for other tours/exhibitions. 
The FFFF is non-competitive, but offers 
opportunity for screenings all over the U.S. 
Entry fee is $15 for residents of the U.S. 
and Canada. There is no entry fee for resi- 
dents of other countries. See freeform 
film.org for details and entry forms. 

BROADCASTS CABLECASTS 

IMAGEMAKERS is a half-hour program airing 
in San Francisco (PBS) that features the 
best short films from around the world. 
Prefer shorts between 2 mm and 25 mm. 
No experimental or docs. Prefer shorts 
shot on 35mm, 24p or in letterbox. Submit 
on VHS or DVD. Send to: Scott Dwyer, 
KQED-TV 2601 Mariposa Street, San 
Francisco, CA 941 10-1426. Visit web site at 
www.kqed.org/imagemakers. 

THE SHORT LIST. Weekly, half-hour interna- 
tional short film series on PBS and cable 
now licensing for 13th season. Considers 
shorts 30 sees, to 19 mms. Send DVD 
screener with application form downloaded 
from www.theshortlist.ee or email short 
list@mail.sdsu.edu. 



54 The Independent I April 2005 



SILVERDOCS 

AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival 

June 14-19, 2005 



DOCS 



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"A fantastic, two year old documentary film festival " 

- USA Today 




Wh- 






CONFERENCE REGISTRATION 

Register early for priority access to top executives 
Register on-line at SILVERDOCS.com 




0: 



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-*fflfflWGT 

DOCS 



n 



6 days of screenings, more than 75 films 
• 3-Day International Documentary Conference - June 15-17, 2005 

Ail in the Washington, DC area —where politics, media and art converge 



SILVERDOCS.com 



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AQUARIUS HEALTH CARE MEDIA is expand- 
ing our list of quality award winning 
videos/DVD's on Life Challenges. We 
have a strong interest in programs on 
aging, caregiving, teen/youth issues, dis- 
abilities, chronic disease, complementary 
therapies and mental health issues. Visit 
www.aquariusproductions.com and 
email brief synopses to lbk@aquariuspro- 
ductions.com or contact Aquarius Health 
Care Videos at 888-440-2963,18 No Main 
St. Sherbom, MA 01770. 

ASOLO ART FILM FESTIVAL seeks entries 
by May 20, 2005 that fit into the follow- 
ing five categories: films on art, artists' 
live, auteur cinema: the challenge of 
eroticism, videoart-computer art, and 
productions. Please send submissions 
with entry form, filmography, slides and 
synopsis to AsoloArtFilmFestival, 
Foresto Vecchio, 8, 31011 Asolo [TV] 
Italy. Email info@asolofilmfestival.it or 
visit www. asolofilmfestival.it for more 
information 

BALAGAN EXPERIMENTAL FILM/VIDEO 

SERIES is accepting short (30 minutes or 



less) films (16mm, super8) and videos 
(3/4, miniDV, VHS, BETA SP or DVD). 
Feel free to submit a compilation tape 
with several works as long as the tape is 
labeled with all titles, lengths, etc. There 
is no submission fee. There is no date of 
production requirement but we prefer to 
screen contemporary works. Submit a 
VHS (NTSC or PAL) tape clearly labeled 
and include any support materials, film- 
maker's bio, photos and SASE if you 
would like your tape to be returned, to: 
Balagan Experimental Film and Video 
Series C/0 Alia Kovgan 88 Winslow Ave., 
#2 Somerville, MA 02144 or email bal 
agan@rcn.com for more info. 

BOXCAR, a screening series held every 
two months at the Detroit Film Center, is 
currently seeking submissions of short 
experimental and documentary work. 
Send submissions on mini DV along with 
a 2-3 sentence synopsis. There is no 
form or entry fee. Send work to: Detroit 
Film Center, c/o Boxcar, 1227 
Washington Blvd. Detroit, Ml 48226. 
Please include SASE for return of tape. 
boxcarcmema@hotmail.com. 



CELLULOID SOCIAL CLUB is a monthly 
screening series in Vancouver featuring 
the best in independent provocative 
short & feature films & videos followed 
by fun & frolic. Hosted by Ken Hegan at 
the ANZA Club, #3 West 8th Ave., 
Vancouver, BC. No minors. Prizes galore. 
For more info call (604) 730-8090 or email 
celluloid@shaw.ca; 
www.CelluloidSocialClub.com. 

DREAM SERIES: Seeks challenging social- 
issue documentaries that promote frank 
community discussions about issues of 
racial prejudice and social injustice that 
fall under the Martin Luther King, Jr., 
legacy. Selected works are screened for 
this ongoing monthly series at the MLK 
National Historic Site in Atlanta, GA, and 
promoted, listed, and reviewed in local 
print. Formats: VHS, Beta. Send non 
returnable VHS screeners to Exhibitions 
Curator IMAGE Film & Video Center 535 
Means Street, NW, Suite C Atlanta, 
Georgia 30318 or visit www.imagefv.org 
for more info. 

FLICKER CHAPEL HILL is a film festival that 



56 The Independent I April 2005 



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fC^RMfc 




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holds bi-monthly screenings at the Cat's 
Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina. Now 
accepting short super 8, 8mm, 16mm, 
and 35mm films that originate on film 
and are less than 15 mm. long [Pixelvision 
films also accepted]. There is no entry 
fee! Please send your VHS, DVD or Print 
to: Flicker Film Festival 706 Davie Road. 
Carrboro, NC 27510. Please include 
synopsis, bio, contact info, a description 
of original shooting format, length, and 
any production stills. Please visit 
www.flickerfilmfestival.com for complete 
guidelines. 

IN0IEEXP0SURE is a new festival designed 
to build an ongoing open network for 
independent film professionals and 
"enthusiasts." The goal is to provide ppor- 
tunities for great filmmakers to showcase 
their work, while offering film buffs more 
variety and easier access to a broader 
independent film community. I.E. will 
sponsor screenings of select films on a 
monthly basis at a local Los Angeles the- 
atre. For submission procedure, email 
lndieExposure@verizon.net and type 
"SUBMISSION" in the subject line. 





Rooftop Films has been showing underground films and videos on rooftops 
in New York City since 1997, but we're more than just a summer film festival. 

We offer year-round classes in: 

* video editing * after effects * cinematography * audio editing * screenwriting * 

We create affordable touring programs for 
rental or purchase. 

With a library of over 900 films we can tailor a program to your needs. To bring 
a Rooftop Films program to your town or campus, or to have us supervise and 
provide equipment for an indoor or outdoor screening of films of your own 
choosing, visit our website or call (718) 417-7362. 



ROOFTOP FILMS 

* www.rooftopfilms.com * 

Festival * Curated Programs * Education * Equipment Rentals * 



April 2005 I The Independent 57 



MADCAT seeks provocative and visionary 
films and videos directed or co-directed 
by women. Films can be of any length or 
genre and produced ANY year. MadCat 
is committed to showcasing work that 
challenges the use of sound and image 
and explores notions of visual story 
telling. All subjects/topics will be consid- 
ered. Submission Fee: $10-30 sliding 
scale. Pay what you can afford. For an 
entry form and more details go to 
www.madcatfilmfest ival.org or call 415 
436-9523. Preview Formats: VHS or 
DVD. Exhibition Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
Super8, Beta SP, Mini DV, VHS. All 
entries must include a SASE for return of 
materials. Early Deadline: March 25, 
2005. Final Deadline: May 13, 2005. 

MIDWEST PRODUCTION GROUP'S INDIE 
FILM CAFE seeks independent films of all 
subjects and styles. Strongly encourage 
short films ten minutes and less, but fea- 
tures and shorts longer than ten minutes 
will also be accepted. Please contact 
Kathryn Kocitvongsa, Director of Public 
Relations: 313-590-7309 or email 
info@indiefilmcafe.net for the submis- 
sion form and guidelines. 

REELBLACK PRESENTS is a Philadelphia- 
based film and video showcase designed 
to promote, develop and nurture an audi- 
ence for quality African-American film. 
We're currently looking for recent 
Features, Shorts & Docs by and/or about 
Black Folks. No entry fee. Please send 




CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS IN: 



Digital Filmmaking 



Intensive nine-month programs for the skills and tools you need to turn your ideas into reality. 
Financial assistance and career services available. Apply now. 

[ Contact us at 800.802.2342 or www.digitalimagingarts.com ] 



NEW DAY FILMS is the premiere distribution 
company for social issue media owned and 
managed by filmmakers. We have distributed 
documentary film and video for over 30 years 
to non-theatrical markets. With a strong com- 
mitment to diversity within our membership 
and the content of the media we represent, 
we welcome your interest! 

www.newday.com • join@newday.com 



Or call Heidi Emberling 650.347.5123 



Seeking energetic 
independent makers 
of social issue 
documentaries for 
new membership. 




THEEDITCENTER 

Learn the art of film editing while working on an actual feature film. 



4£ SUNDANCE ^J| 
f FILM FESTIVAL ^ ' 

Tadpole 

if Class Project »< 

°* 2000 f™ 



ilf CANNES "*J. 
• FILM FESTIVAL •' 

Chelsea Walls 
i Class Project J 



A£ SUNDANCE \». 

"^ FILM FESTIVAL ** 

Evergreen 

V Class Project i 

\ 2003 •* 



For additional information and class availability, call 21 2-691 -2370 or visit our website 

www.theeditcenter.com 

£ Authorized Training Center 



58 The Independent I April 2005 



(non-returnable) VHS or DVD screeners 
w/ press kit to REELBLACK, P.O. Box 
12302 Philadelphia, PA 19119. For more 
info contact Miked@reelblack.com. 

STREET MOVIES! is a year-round screening 
series presented by Philadelphia's Scribe 
Video Center. Free series tours Philly 
neighborhoods throughout the year & 
offers a program of indy cinema to the 
general public w/ a forum for dialogue. 
Prefer social issue, thought provoking 
work of any genre or style as well as kid- 
friendly pieces. Must be under 60 mms. 
& will receive an honorarium if selected. 
Founded: 1997. Send 1/2" VHS or DVD 
w/ synopsis and contact info. Contact: 
Phil Rothberg, Program Coordinator; 215- 
222-4201; email stmovies@scribe.org; 
www.scribe.org. 

T 2005 TAURI FILM FESTIVAL, a division of 
Ozark Foothills FilmFest, is open to film- 
makers age 18 and under. Entries will be 
judged by peer panels at three grade lev- 
els: 4-6, 7-9, and 1 0-1 2. Entries are being 
sought in the following categories: narra- 
tive, documentary, music video, public 
service message, and animation/experi- 
mental. Awards will be given for the best 
film at each grade level in each category. 
Award-winners and other films selected 
by the judges will be included in a "Best 
of T Taun" regional touring program. VHS 
or DVD formatted entries should be sent 
to T Taun Film Festival, 195 Peel Road, 



Students experience New Zealand's 
Maori culture with Whale Rider, learn 

of young monks' lives in a Tibetan 

monastery from The Cup, befriend an 

Iranian brother and sister in 

Children of Heaven, and visit rural 

Korea with a boy and his 
grandmother in The Way Home... 
and return before the bell rings! 



Journeys" 
in Film 




An Odyssey in Global Education 

Journeys in Film offers the opportunity for 

Middle and High School students 

to experience WORLD CULTURES through 

innovative curricula and feature foreign films. 

Contact us with your film! 

www.JoumeysinFilm 
info@JourneysinFilm.org; Phone: 505.867.4666 

"If we are committed to the dream of world peace, we 

must first educate our children and teach them 

understanding and compassion for other people, races, 

and cultures. Through the viewing of feature films from 

around the world, we can begin that process." 

— Liam Neeson, National Spokesperson 

Con & a sa "Liberty ©woridwise 

Group Publishing schools 

With your vision and support we can reach hundreds of thousands of students. 
Please contact us to make your tax deductible donation. 



April 2005 I The Independent 59 



FIRST ANNUAL 

NEW CHINA 



Bridging continents 
with the best new 
independent film from 
China and the U.S. 

New York 

September 2005 

i 

Deadline: June 30. 2005 




NEW YORK 

FILM FESTIVAL 

Gall for entries: 
Animation, Shorts, 
Docs and Features 

Beijing 

October 2005 



www.newchinanewyork.com 




9th Annual MadCat Women's International Film Festival 
Showcasing the best avant-garde films by women 
from around the globe September 2005 

Call for Submissions Final Deadline: May 13 

(Sendjour submission today) 

2005 Tour On the road again... 

MadCat is currently touring across the country at universities, art houses and museums. 
Check out the web site for entry forms and the tour line up madcatfilmfestival.org 



"At MadCat you too can be treated year after year with Ariella Ben-Dov's exceptional 
curatorial savvy, dedication and intelligent cultural contributions." I • 
Independent Filmmakc'' MadCat tests, expands, and evolves the traditional, politically 
motivated. 20th Century definition of the women's film festival. " - The Independent 
Film and Video Month!, "MadCat isn't just a women's film festival — it's an arty showcase 
of avant-garde experimental shorts that veer far from the traditional modes of 
storytelling. " Female filmmakers have evolved, based on the stellar slate 

highlighted at MadCat, where post-feminism morphs into profound humanism. 
This is an exciting time for women filmmakers, and for all moviegoers." — SF Weekly 




4154369523 madcatf ilmf esti val.org 



Locust Grove AR 72550 by May 1, 2005. 
Additional information is available: film- 
fest@direcway.com or call 870-251-1 189. 



URBAN MEDIAMAKERS ASSOCIATION is 

seeking all genres and languages (subti- 
tled in English) for the 2005 Quarterly 
Indie Cinema Night Series - action, ani- 
mation, horror, sci-fi, children, drama, 
documentaries, comedies, music videos, 
TV shows, and new media. Submissions 
are free and include audience evaluations 
and an opportunity for your film to be 
showcased on public television in 
Atlanta, Georgia, Decatur, Georgia, 
Canton, Georgia, Charlotte, North 
Carolina, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 
Washington, DC, Chicago, Illinois, and 
Miami, Florida. Please mail a VHS/DVD 
copy of your film and include a synopsis 
of the film, length of film, a short bio and 
resume of the director/producer/writer. 
Also include press materials if they are 
available. Submit to Urban Mediamakers 
Association, Attention: Indie Cinema 
Night, P.O. Box 50435, Atlanta, Georgia 
30302. There are no submissions fees. 
Please direct questions to 770.345.8048 
or aumai@urbanmediamakers.com. Visit 
our web site at www.urbanmediamak- 
ers.com. 

YOUNG URBAN MEDIAMAKERS (YUMS) 

The Urban Mediamakers Association has 
an ongoing program for youth ages 13-19 
focusing on animation, film, music, tele- 
vision and video. We're seeking enthusi- 
astic youth in Atlanta, Georgia and 
Charlotte, North Carolina for this pro- 
gram, which includes a 6-week Summer 
program that partners youth with media 
professionals to allow participating youth 
to write, produce, and screen their inde- 
pendent film projects. For more informa- 
tion, contact the YUMs at yum@urban- 
mediamakers.com or call 770.345.8048. 



60 The Independent I April 2005 













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ALBANY/TROY, NY: 

UPSTATE INDEPENDENTS 

When: First Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. 

Where: Bulmer Telecommunications Center, 

Hudson Valley Community College, 80 

Vandenburg Ave., Troy, NY 

Contact: Jeff Burns, (518) 366-1538 

albany@aivf.org 

ATLANTA, GA: 

IMAGE 

When: Second Tuesdays, 7 p.m. 

Where: Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, 

353 Means Street 

Contact: Sonia Vassell, (404) 352-4225 x20 

atlanta@aivf.org; www.imagefv.org 

CHARLESTON, SC: 

When: Last Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. 

Where: Charleston County Library 

68 Calhoun Street 

Contact: Peter Paolini, (843) 805-6841; or 

Peter Wentworth, charleston@aivf.org 

CLEVELAND, OH: 

OHIO INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL 
Contact: Annetta Marion or Bernadette 
Gillota, (216)651-7315 
cleveland@aivf.org; www.ohiofilms.com 

COLUMBIA, SC: 

When: Second Sundays 
Where: Art Bar, 1211 Park St. 
Contact: Wade Sellers, (803) 929-0066 
columbia@aivf.org 

DALLAS, TX: 

VIDEO ASSOCIATION OF DALLAS 

When: Bi-monthly 

Contact: Bart Weiss, (214) 428-8700 

dallas@aivf.org 



EDISON, NJ: 

Where: Passion River Productions, 
190 Lincoln Hwy. 

Contact: Allen Chou, (732) 321-071 1 
edison@aivf.org; www.passionriver.com 

FORT WAYNE, IN: 

Contact: Erik Mollberg 

(260) 691-3258; fortwayne@aivf.org 

HOUSTON, TX: 

SWAMP 

When: Last Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. 

Where: 1519 West Main 

Contact: Mary Lampe, (713) 522-8592 

houston@aivf.org 

HUNTSVILLE, AL: 

Contact: Charles White, (256) 895-0423 
huntsville@aivf.org 

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL: 

Contact: Paul Godby, (205) 956-3522 
jeffersoncounry@aivf.org 

LINCOLN, NE: 

NEBRASKA INDEPENDENT FILM PROJECT 

When: Second Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. 

Where: Telepro, 1 844 N Street 

Contact: Jared Minary, lincoln@aivf.org, 

(402) 467-1077, www.nifp.org 

LOS ANGELES, CA: 

When: Third Mondays, 7:30 p.m. 

Where: EZTV, 18th Street arts Center, 629 

18th St., #6, Santa Monica 

Contact: Michael Masucci 

(310) 829-3389; losangeles@aivf.org 

MILWAUKEE, Wl: 

MILWAUKEE INDEPENDENT FILM SOCIETY 

When: First Wednesdays, 7 p.m. 



Where: Milwaukee Enterprise Center, 
2821 North 4th, Room 140 
Contact: Laura Gembolis, (414) 688-2375 
milwaukee@aivf.org; www.mifs.org/salo 

NASHVILLE, TN 

Where: See www.naivf.com for events 
Contact: Stephen Lackey, nashville@aivf.org 

PORTLAND, OR: 

Where: Hollywood Theatre 

Contact: David Bryant, (503) 244-4225 

portland@aivf.org 

ROCHESTER, NY: 

Where: Visual Studies Workshop 

Contact: Liz Lehmann 

(585) 377-1109; rochester@aivf.org 

SAN DIEGO, CA: 

When: Monthly 

Where: Media Arts Center, 921 25th Street 

Contact: Ethan van Thillo (619) 230-1938 

sandiego@aivf.org 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: 

Contact: Kathy Vaguilar 

(510) 482-3484; sanfrancisco@aivf.org 

SEATTLE, WA: 

SEATTLE INDIE NETWORK 

When: Bi-monthly 

Where: Wiggly World and 91 1 Media Arts 

Center 

Contact: Andrea Mydlarz, Fiona Orway; 

seattle@aivf.org 

TUCSON, AZ: 

Contact: Jana Segal, (520) 906-7295 
tucson@aivf.org 

WASHINGTON, DC: 

Contact: DC Salon hotline, 

(202) 661-7145, washingtondc@aivf.org 



62 The Independent I April 2005 



THANK YOU 



The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 
(AIVF) provides a wide range of programs and services 
for independent moving image makers and the media 
community, including The Independent and a series of 
resource publications, seminars and workshops, infor- 
mation services, and arts and media policy advocacy. 

None of this work would be possible without the 
generous support of the AIVF membership and the 
following organizations: 

We also wish to thank the following individuals and 
organizational members: 



W 



□ 



Adobe Systems, Inc. 

City of New York Dept. of Cultural Affairs 

Discovery Wines 

Experimental Television Center Ltd. 

Forest Creatures Entertainment, Inc. 

Home Box Office 

The Jewish Communal Fund 

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 

NAMAC 

The Nathan Cummings Foundation 

The National Endowment for the Arts 

New York State Council on the Arts 

The Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation 

Panasonic USA 

Public Media, Inc. 

Yuengling Beer 



BUSINESS/INDUSTRY MEMBERS: AL Cypress Moon Productions; 
AZ: Ascension Pictures; CA: Arrowire LLC; Groovy Like a Movie; 
llluminaire Entertainment, Media Del'Arte; San Diego Asian Film 
Foundation; SJPL Films, Ltd.; CO: Pay Reel; CT: Anvil Production; 
DC: Corporation for Public Broadcasting; FL: Academy Leader Inc; 
Key West Films Society; New Screen Broacasting; GA: Lab 601 
Digital Post; IL: Shattering Paradigms Entertainment, LLC; MA: 
Exit One Productions; Monkey Ray Productions, LLC; MD: 
NewsGroup, Inc.; TLF Limited Management; Ml: Logic Media 
LLC; NH: Kinetic Films; NJ: Chica Luna Productions/Chica Sol 
Films; NY: American Montage; Baraka Productions; Code 
16/Radical Avid; Cypress Films; DeKart Video; Deutsch/Open City 
Films; Docurama; Forest Creatures Entertainment; getcast.com; 
Gigantic Brand; Greenhouse Pictures LLC; Harmonic Ranch; 
Lantern Productions; Larry Engel Productions Inc.; Lightworks 
Producing Group; Mad Mad Judy; Mercer Media; Missing Pixel; 
Off Ramp Films, Inc.; On the Prowl Productions; OVO; Possibilites 
Unlimited; Production Central; Range Post; Robin Frank 
Management; Rockbottom Entertainment, LLC; Triune Pictures; 
United Spheres Production; OR: Art Institute of Portland; PA: 
Skanfo Inc.; Rl: The Revival House; WA: Sound Wise; Two Dogs 
Barking; Singapore: Crimson Forest Films 

NONPROFIT MEMBERS: AR: Henderson State University; 
AZ: Pan Left Productions; CA: Bay Area Video Coalition; California 
Newsreel; Everyday Gandhis Project; Film Arts Foundation; 
International Buddhist Film Festival; NALIP; New Images 
Productions; Sundance Institute; USC School of Cinema and TV; 
CO: Denver Center Media; Free Speech TV: CT: Film Fest New 
Haven; Hartley Film Foundation; DC: American University School 
of Communication; CINE; Gaea Foundat+en; FL: Miami 
International Film Festival; University of Tampa; GA: Image Film 
and Video Center; HI: Pacific Islanders in Communications; IL: Art 
Institute of Chicago (Video Data Bank); Community Television 
Network; Department of Communication/NLU; Kartemquin Films; 
IN: Fort Wayne Cinema Center; KY: Appalshop; Paducah Film 
Society; MA: CCTV; Documentary Educational Resources; 
Harvard University, OsCLibrary; LTC; MD: 7 Oils Production; 
Laurel Cable Network; Silverdocs: AFI Discovery Channel Doc 
Festival; ME: Maine Photographic Workshop; Ml: Ann Arbor Film 
Festival; MN: IFP/MSP; Walker Art Center; MO: Webster 
University Film Series; MS: Magnolia Independent Film Festival; 
NC: Calcalorus Film Foundation; Duke University, Film & Video 
Dept.; University of North Carolina, Dept. of Broadcast and 
Cinema; UNC, Wilmington; NE: Nebraska Independent Film 
Project/AIVF Salon Lincoln; Ross Media Center, UN-Lincoln; NJ: 



Black Maria Film Festival; Capriole Productions; Freedom Film 
Society, Inc.; Princeton University, Program in Visual Arts; NM: 
Girls Film School; University of New Mexico; NY: ActNow 
Productions; Arts Engine; Cornell Cinema; Council for Positive 
Images, Inc.; Creative Capital Foundation; Crowing Rooster Arts; 
Educational Video Center; Experimental Television Center; Film 
Forum; Film Society of Lincoln Center; Firelight Media; Hourglass 
Group; International Film Seminars; LMC-TV; Manhattan 
Neighborhood Network; Melted.org; National Black Touring 
Circtuit; National Black Programming Consortium; National 
Musuem of the American Indian; National Video Resources; New 
York University, Cinema Studies; New York Women in Film and 
Television; Parnassus Works; POV/The American Documentary; 
RIT School of Film and Animation; School of Visual Arts, Film 
Department; Squeaky Wheel; Standby Program; Stonestreet 
Studios Film and TV Acting Workshop; Stony Brook Film Festival; 
Syracuse University; Upstate Films, Ltd.; Witness; Women Make 
Movies; OH: Athens Center for Film And Video; Independent 
Pictures/AIVF Ohio Salon; Media Bridges Cincinatti; School of 
Film, Ohio University; Wexner Center; Northest Film Center; The 
Oregon Film & Video Foundation; PA: American Poetry Center; 
Philadelphia Independent Film & Video Assoc. (PIFVA); Pittsburgh 
Filmmakers; Scribe Video Center; TeamChildren.com; Rl: Flickers 
Arts Collaborative; SC: South Carolina Arts Commission; TN: Indie 
Memphis Film Festival; TX: Austin Film Society; Southwest 
Alternate Media Project; UT: Sundance Institute; WA: Seattle 
Central Community College; Thurston Community Television; 
Canada: Banff Centre Library; RIDM; France: The Carmago 
Foundation 

FRIENDS OF AIVF: Angela Alston, Sabma Maja Angel, Tom 
Basham, Aldo Bello, David Bemis, Doug Block, Liz Canner, Hugo 
Cassirer, Williams Cole, Anne del Castillo, Arthur Dong, Martin 
Edelstem, Esq., Aaron Edison, Paul Espinosa, Karen Freedman, 
Lucy Garnty, Norman Gendelman, Debra Granik, Catherine Gund, 
Peter Gunthel, David Haas, Kyle Henry, Lou Hernandez, Lisa 
Jackson, John Kavanaugh, Stan Konowitz, Leonard Kurz, Lyda 
Kuth, Steven Lawrence, Bart Lawson, Regge Life, Juan 
Mandelbaum, Diane Markrow, Tracy Mazza, Leonard McClure, 
Daphne McDuffie-Tucker, Jim McKay, Michele Meek, Robert 
Millis, Robert Millis, Richard Numeroff, Elizabeth Peters, Laura 
Poitras, Robert Richter, Hiroto Saito, Larry Sapadin, James 
Schamus, John Schmidt, Nat Segaloff, Robert Seigel, Gail Silva, 
Innes Smolansky, Barbara Sostaric, Alexander Spencer, Miriam 
Stern, George Stoney, Rhonda Leigh Tanzman, Rahdi Taylor, Karl 
Trappe, Jane Wagner, Bart Weiss 



April 2005 I The Independent 63 



THE LIST 



FROM THE BOTTOM UP 



By Lindsay Gelfand 

The strong grassroots sentiments that founded AIVF are as prevalent as 

ever — and according to this month's featured filmmakers, as varied as ever. 

We asked filmmakers to share with us the grassroots media effort 

that most affected them or their career. 



"I would say having a small Texas town pull support for 
production one day before shooting — due to gay content — is a 
surefire way to get front page news. It's not something that we 
planned, but something so drastic, that hurt our production, is 
going to help us in the long run." 

— Kim Fishman, producer, Fat Girls 

"I would have to say that the work of Joelle Ruby Ryan, a 
local transgender scholar, writer, and activist, has most 
informed my desire to bring about change in the world through 
the use of film. In creating Transamazon, A Genderqueer Journey, 
I witnessed first-hand her courage and bravery in fighting big- 
otry, intolerance, hate, and violence against people who don't fit 
the cookie cutter gender mold in our culture. I now see trans- 
gendered people as the most evolved spirits on the planet." 
— Peter Welch, editor, Transamazon, A Genderqueer Journey 

"The digital revolution and the willingness on the part of 
many film festivals and venues to show digital media has 
tremendously affected my artistry and career. When digital 
technology became accessible, I made my first film, a feature 
called Robin's Hood, and it played at over 50 film festivals on five 
continents, all for under 517,000. Most of the post-production 
done in my own living room." 

— Sara Millman, writer/director, Filmworks7 

"My answer would definitely be POWER UP, the 
Professional Organization of Women in Entertainment 
Reaching UP, a nonprofit organization which has a film pro- 
duction program that is run entirely by volunteers." 

— Lisa Thrasher, producer 

"It's the kind folks at Frameline in San Francisco. The organ- 
ization coordinates the largest film festival in the state of 



California, the San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film 
Festival, and the largest and oldest of its kind worldwide. It is 
their effort that is responsible for the international global con- 
nection of queer film festivals worldwide, more than 100 to 
date, and has proven to broadcasters, exhibitors, and other film 
distributors (including the CFMDC) that gay is the way." 

— Jeff Crawford, festivals officer for the Canadian 
Filmmakers Distribution Center in Toronto 

"The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women 
in China, 1995. Over 40,000 grassroots women from across the 
globe came together in one place to focus on women and girls' 
rights. I was there shooting a documentary. Media access and 
education were identified as absolute necessities for women's 
equality. I came home, finished the tape, and founded our 
organization." 

— Salome Chasnoff, media artist/activist/executive director, 

Beyondmedia 

"The word is out. Without a doubt the growing acceptance 
and interest in the voices of out gay filmmakers has really 
helped launch my career. Because of Network/Cable TV and 
Broadway, through gay marriage headlines, the unique POV of 
a LGBT minority is getting a chance to play to a broader world- 
wide audience." 

— David M. Young, director/producer/writer/editor, 

Looking For Mr. Right 

"Probably the Robert Rodriguez film, El Mariachi. There was 
such a street buzz about how his career in film was launched by 
a S7,000 movie. I had just started NYU Film School and 
thought, 'I can do this.'" 

— Brent Sterling Nemetz, writer/director, 
Sterling Films, Ltd. 



64 The Independent I April 2005 




2005 STONY BROOK FILM FESTIVAL JULY 21-30 



10 Days Celebrating 10 Years 




Call for Entries 



Filmmakers' Favorite 

"One of the most enjoyable festival experiences 
I've had... in the top tier of filmmaker-friendly festivals 
anywhere. . .everyone who gets invited is a big winner." 

—Mark J. Gordon, writer and director, Her Majesty 

"Never before have we screened for over 900 people 
at a single festival screening. You have unlocked a door 
that many a festival director is trying to find— the key to 
solid attendance. " 

— Adrienne Wehr, producer, The Bread, My Sweet 

Entry is FREE this year in honor of our 1 0th anniversary 

Competitions in 35mm and 16mm films include features, 

shorts, documentaries, and animation. 

Stony Brook Film Festival does not project video. 

Largest venue and film screen in the region 

• 1 ,000-plus seats 

• 40-foot screen 

• More than 1 3,000 attendees at the 2004 festival. 

Entry forms available online at stonybrookfHmfestival.com 

Or write to: 

Stony Brook Film Festival 

Staller Center for the Arts, Room 2030A 

Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 1 1 794-5425 

Deadline: May 2, 2005 

For more information, call 631-632-7235 

or e-mail: filmfestival@stonybrookfilmfestival.com 



AA/EOE 



STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY 



www.stonybrookfilrnfestival. com 




CENTER FOR THE ARTS 








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THE BROTHERS WILSON: LUKE, OWEN & ANDREW 

still partial to capers and uniforms in Luke's The Wendell Baker Story 

KEEPING THE DAY JOB 

if Wallace Stevens can do it, you can do it 

EFFIE BROWN 

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A Publication of The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 

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Volume 28 Number 4 

Cover: Director Greg Araki on set (courtesy of Tartan Films) 



Upfront 

5 EDITOR'S LETTER 

6 CONTRIBUTORS 
9 NEWS 

The National Museum of the American Indian 
launches First Nations/First Features; Film Baby 
delivers an online outlet 
By Amy Thomas 

12 UTILIZE IT 

Tools and news you can use 
By David Aim 

14 DOC DOCTOR 

How to afford distribution on a small marketing 
budget; the challenge ot crew relationships 
By Fernanda Rossi 

1 6 FIRST PERSON 

A Miramax script developer busts some industry 
myth-conceptions 

By Maureen A. Nolan 

19 Q/A 

Luke Wilson sweats the premiere of The Wendell 
Baker Story at SXSW 
By Rebecca Carroll 

22 FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 

White: A Film Series asks: how does American 
cinema address whiteness as a racial category? 
By Nicholas Boston 

25 PRODUCTION JOURNAL 

Documenting a damaged man in Why Neal? 
By Chris Deleo 

28 ON THE SCENE 

Xan Cassavetes's Z Channel: A Magnificent 
Obsession and the 10-year-otd IFC — a match 
made in heaven 

By Sarah J. Coleman 



Features 



32 GREG ARAKI 

A shockingly unshocking new film for the post- 
preference generation 
By Lisa Selin Davis 

36 KEEPING THE DAY JOB 

Finding a balance between what pays you and 
what rewards you 
By David Roth 

40 EFFIE BROWN 

Super producer busts out on her own — 
Oprah-style 

By Kate Bernstein 

44 LEGAL 

Co-author vs. co-collaborator: the logistics of 
joint copyright scenarios 
By Fernando Ramirez 



Listings 

46 FESTIVALS 
54 CLASSIFIEDS 
57 NOTICES 
60 WORK WANTED 

63 THANKS 

64 THE LIST 



www.aivf.org 



May 2005 I The Independent 3 




National exposure, viewer feedback, cachet in film circles, and. 

yes. money that can help pay off production costs are some of 

the benefits of having a film selected by TV's longest-running 

nonfiction film series.'' -Bill Keveney. USA loday 



P.O.V. Announces 

Season 19 Open Call For Entries and 

The Diverse Voices Project II 

jppwted by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting 3 private nonprofit corporation funded by the American r, 

NEW ONLINE SUBMISSION PROCESS 



Apply online! 

Please visit us at 

www.pbs.org/pov/callforentries 

to apply. 

Questions? 

Call P.O.V. at 
1-800-756-3300 ext. 380 



Call For Entries: P.O.V.. public television's premiere showcase for independent 

non-fiction film seeks submissions from all perspectives to showcase in annual 

PBS series. P.O.V. welcomes all subjects, styles and lengths. Unfinished films 

may be eligible for completion funds. Open Call guidelines are available for 

review at www.pbs.org/pov/forproducers 

The Diverse Voices Project II. with up to $80,000 in coproduction funding 
available to emerging filmmakers, is P.O.V.'s initiative to support stories about 
diverse communities* produced by emerging makers. Guidelines for applying to 

the Diverse Voices Project II are available for review at www.pbs.org/pov/dvp 



"Please visit the P.O.V. website for eligibility requirements. 

The submission deadline for the 2006 Season and DVP II is July 1, 2005 



James A. Michener Center for Writers 



^J^ajS&iTpf^ A^U*-& jT^/ 



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DIRECTOR 
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Combine work, in 
with fiction, 
poetry or playwriting in our unique 
interdisciplinary MFA degree program. 
Students arc fully funded by 
annual fellowships of$l 7,500. 

512/471.1601 • www.utexas.edu/academic/mcw 

RECENT GUEST SCREENWRITERS 

William Broyles • Tim McCanlies • Mark Medoff 
Anne Rapp • Steven Soderbcrgh • Ed Solomon 

THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN 



independent 



Publisher: Bienvenida Matias 

[publisher@aivf org] 

Editor-in-Chief: Rebecca Carroll 

[editor@aivf.org] 

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Designer: R. Benjamin Brown 

[benbrowngraphic@msn.com] 

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[notices@aivf.org] 

Contributing Editors: 

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Visit The Independent online at: www.aiv1.org 



4 The Independent I May 2005 




EDITOR'S LETTER 



Dear Readers, 

As the magazine's aesthetic continues to 
change in subtle but significant ways, I'd like to 
bring to your attention one such change. You 
may notice that on the cover, rather than call- 
ing ourselves The Independent Film & Video 
Monthly, we are now going simply by The 
Independent, with the tagline "a magazine for 
video and filmmakers" (lest we be mistaken for 
The Independent out of London — yeah, that'll 
happen), which we feel connects us more to 
our parent organization, the Association of 
Independent Video and Filmmakers, as we 
should be, and is also a bit less newsletter- 
sounding. 

This issue also introduces a new section 
called "UTILIZE IT" — an in-brief look at 
newsworthy items and new equipment that 
may come in handy to you right now. And 
with it comes a new contributing editor, David 
Aim, who also writes frequently for The 
Independent. And next month we'll add a 
"Members in the News" page for outstanding 
AJVF member announcements and achieve- 
ments — see your latest issue of SPLICE! for 
how to submit your announcement. 

Because I get so much great information 
about independent film work being done out 
there that may not fit the current theme issue 
and also because I always tout The 
Independent as a magazine about "the culture 
of independent film," twice a year (most like- 
ly May and June) we will focus on independ- 
ent film in general. This issue you are reading 
now is one such general issue. 

I saw Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin (out 
this month from Tartan Films) at Sundance 
earlier this year and was blown away — it was 



so powerful, quiet, and strangely gentle, even 
despite scenes featuring graphic sexual vio- 
lence. Just a beautiful, if somewhat unsettling 
film. Lisa Selin Davis talked to Araki about 
the film, his moral center, and his freak-filled 
filmmaking career (page 32). 

Most of us who are passionate about writ- 
ing, art, filmmaking — anything remotely cre- 
ative — have had to hold down a job we didn't 
like at one time or another in order to pay the 
bills. Although some people (like, say, my par- 
ents) just do the artist thing straight up and 
hope they don't ever get sick or break a bone 
(or fall prey to any other fate where health and 
medical insurance would be really, really help- 
ful), others either can't stand the risk or are just 
fairly pragmatic folks who believe in having 
insurance and paying the rent. Freelance writer 
David Roth talked to some of those folks in his 
piece, "Keeping the Day Job" (page 36), and 
discovered that living in a cold, dark garret 
subsisting on bread and water may be totally 
passe, but working for a living is no small feat. 
"You can be the most motivated person in the 
world and it's still going to be difficult," says 
Kate Bernstein, filmmaker, VH 1 producer, 
and freelance writer, who writes for this publi- 
cation and has a piece in this issue ("Effie 
Brown," page 40). 

Also in this issue, Xan Cassavette's Z 
Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, and why 
IFC is the perfect home for this documentary 
about the legendary cable channel out of LA 
run by Jerry Harvey in the late 70s and early 
80s (page 28). Our beloved Doc Doctor, 
Fernanda Rossi, answers perpetually relevant 
questions about how to tackle the behemoth 
that is the film industry, while staying inde- 
pendent and true to yourself as a filmmaker 
(page 14). Former Miramax script consultant, 
Maureen Nolan, demythologizes film devel- 
opment executives (page 16); and I sat down 
with Luke Wilson at the SXSW Film Festival 
in March, where his feature film, The Wendell 
Baker Story premiered, and badgered him like 
an obsessed fan about the brilliance of Bottle 
Rocket (page 19). 

Enjoy, and thanks tor reading 
The Independent, 
Rebecca Carroll 




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May 2005 I The Independent 5 




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FILM, ARTS & 
ENTERTAINMENT 



www.wyomingfilm.org 




CONTRIB 



DAVID ALM teaches film history and 
writing at two colleges in Chicago. His 
writing has appeared in Artbyte, 
Camerawork, RES, Silicon Alley Reporter, 
SOMA, and The Utne Reader. He's also 
contributed to books on web design and 
digital filmmaking and assisted in 
making documentaries about architecture 
and earbaee. 




day soon. Her journalism has appeared in 
New York Newsday, The San Francisco 
Chronicle, Salon, and The Boston Phoenix, 
among others. 

LISA SELIN DAVIS is the author of 
the novel, Belly, forthcoming from Little, 
Brown & Co., and a freelance writer in 
New York. 



NICHOLAS BOSTON writes about 
media and culture for various publica- 
tions. He is an assistant professor of jour- 
nalism and mass communications at 
Lehman College of the City University of 
New York. 





CHRIS DELEO grew up in Ozone 
Park, New York, and earns his living as a 
professional magician, performing for pri- 
vate clients and exclusive clubs. He always 
dreamed about making a film, but it was- 
n't until his late twenties that he saw an 
opportunity in his friend, Neal Hecker. 
SARAH COLEMAN is books editor He started filming in 1997, completing 
of Planet magazine and writes on the arts the project in 2000. He is currently out- 
for various publications. She has an MFA lining a John Cassavettes-style film and 
in fiction writing from Columbia hopes one day to convince Sara Gilbert to 
University and hopes to put it to use some take the leading role. 



T he Independent I May 2005 



JTORS 



MAUREEN A. NOLAN is a script, 
story, and creative consultant who works 
with writers and filmmakers on story 
development, script doctoring, and 
rewrites. Her background includes eight 
years as a top script and story analyst for 
Miramax Films. She has also worked as an 
analyst for HBO and Columbia Tristar 
Television, and has served as resource 
consultant for scripts for the IFP's 
Resource Consultant Panel. She holds an 
MFA in dramatic writing from New York 
University. Recently, she was the industry 
mentor for the AIVF Screenwriter 
Mentorship Program. 

FERNANDO RAMIREZ is an attor- 
ney in private practice in New York City, 
where he lives with his wife and 12-year- 
old son/aspiring doc-maker. Mr. Ramirez 
graduated from Fordham University, and 
earned his law degree from Brooklyn Law 
School. His work involves transactional 
entertainment law; he drafts, reviews, 
and/or negotiates industry agreements, 
and advises on copyright, trademark, con- 
tracts, privacy, and business formation 
matters for independent filmmakers, 
executive producers, media personalities, 
singer/songwriters, personal managers, 
independent labels, and nonprofit film 
organizations. 

FERNANDA ROSSI, known as the 
Documentary Doctor, is a filmmaker and 
story consultant who helps filmmakers 
craft the story structure of their films in all 
stages ol the filmmaking process. She has 
doctored over 100 documentaries and fic- 
tion scripts and is the author of Trailer 
Mechanics: A Guide to Making your 
Documentary Fundraising Trailer. For more 
info: www.documentarydoctor.com. 




DAVID ROTH is a writer from New 
Jersey who lives in New York. His day job 
is in the baseball card business, and his 
nonfiction has appeared in The New 
Republic Online, McSweeneys.net, The 
Green Magazine and Fly. His short story 
"The Other Woman" appears in Post 
Road #10. 




AMY THOMAS has forever been an 
indie movie fan, even though this is her 
first assignment for The Independent. The 
founder ofmodgirl.com, Amy has written 
about everything from digital photogra- 
phy to chocolate souffles for magazines 
such as Lucky, Time Out New York, CITY 
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NEWS 



Featured Firsts 



Capturing the voice and vision of indigenous filmmakers 

By Amy Thomas 




Evan Adams (foreground) with Adam Beach in the 1998 Smoke Signals — which opens First Nations/First Features at the MoMA 
(Jill Sabella/Miramax) 



Most people (and certainly this 
magazines readers) are aware 
that moviemaking is dominat- 
ed by Hollywood. Mega budgets and 
proven directors and flashy marketing 
and spin rule the game that puts films on 
the big screen. It's rare that a good foreign 
film comes to the local cineplex, much 
less a movie made by an indigenous film- 
maker like the Zapotec from Mexico or 
New Zealand's Maori. Thankfully, this is 
something that three prestigious institu- 
tions decided it was time to change. 

From May 11-22, The Museum of 
Modern Art, the Smithsonian National 
Museum of the American Indian 



(NMAI), and the New York University 
Center for Media, Culture and History 
are bringing a showcase of more than 20 
films by indigenous filmmakers to New 
York City and Washington, DC. The pro- 
gram, titled First Nations/First Features, 
launches in New York at the recently 
expanded MoMA and will remain there 
until moving south to DC on the 18th. 
It's a forum that celebrates feature-length 
films (and a handful of shorts) of indige- 
nous directors from communities like 
Inuit, Maori, Native North and South 
American, Nenet, and others, and will 
collectively offer entertainment, inspira- 
tion, and overdue recognition. 



"We all felt that this work deserved 
wider attention — the mainstream atten- 
tion," said MoMA's Sally Berger, who 
organized the program with Faye 
Ginsburg, director of the Center for 
Media, Culture and History at NYU, 
Elizabeth Weatherford from NMAI, and 
independent curator Pegi Vail. "We came 
up with the idea knowing that people did- 
n't know about this work." Each of the 
collaborators, though, has had a long- 
standing interest in and involvement with 
the indigenous genre. Now, about three 
years after first coming up with the idea 
for the showcase, they're thrilled to be 
sharing the films with a larger audience. 



May 2005 I The Independent 9 




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"The program fell into place because 
we were looking at this notion of 'firsts,'" 
Berger said. In addition to first features 
made by the director and/or indigenous 
group, the organizers sought films that 
represented groundbreaking work and 
different landmarks in indigenous pro- 
duction. Because the highlighted films 
were firsts, some date as far back as the 
80s, such as Norway's The Pathfinder — 
that nation's first Lapp-language feature 
film — and ham Hakim Hopiit from the 
United States, which celebrates Hopi 
Tricentennial. 

In more recent years, works by a 
younger generation have been meeting 
with increased mainstream success. Tivo 
Cars, One Night, directed by Maori New 
Zealander Taika Waititi, tells the story of 
two boys and a girl who begin a friend- 
ship in the parking lot of a motel bar. 
This past year, it became the first Maori- 
made Academy Award-nominated short 
film. It will be presented with a film from 
Australia's Ivan Sen — a "wonderful up 
and coming director" according to 
Berger — called Beneath Clouds. 

The directors featured in First 
Nations/First Features are not only from 
a new generation. For the past two 
decades, indigenous directors have been 
creating groundbreaking work and 
receiving international accolades. When 
Smoke Signals premiered at Sundance in 
1998, it received unprecedented accept- 
ance and went on to gain distribution 
and win praise from Native Americans 
and the general public alike. It was the 
first time that Native Americans directed 
and co-produced a film — and arguably it 
was the first time this indigenous group 
was presented in such real, honest terms. 
The movie's characters, based on those 
from a collection of short stories by 
Sherman Alexie, who adapted them for 
the screen along with the director, Chris 
Eyre, were complex and human, not one- 
dimensional sidekicks. As perhaps the 
most recognized movie by an indigenous 
director, Smoke Signals will kick off First 
Nations/First Features on May 12. As 
with most films in the program, the 
director will be present to introduce the 
work. 

Another film that broke barriers and 
gained international recognition was 



director Zacharias Kunuk's Atanarjuat: 
The Past Runner. Canada's first feature- 
length film written, produced, directed, 
and acted by Inuit won the Camera d'Or 
at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. The 
movie, based on a traditional Inuit story, 
is about two brothers who challenge the 
curse of an evil shaman. 

It the organizers have their way, First 
Nations/First Features will give these 
indigenous filmmakers a prestigious 
world stage on which to share their tal- 
ents. Something that, as Beverly Singer, a 
filmmaker and member of program's 
advisory circle, points out is especially 
important in today's world. She said: 
"These first features remedy the absence 
of aboriginal/indigenous cultural voices in 
the fiction filmmaking world. It is [espe- 
cially] important [post 9/11]... in light of 
intolerance about different beliefs. These 
films are stories that reflect a different cul- 
tural and sometimes more thoughtful film 
landscape, wherein moviegoers should 
expect not simply to be just entertained — 
but to become informed viewers." 

For more information, please visit 
www.firstnationsfrsfeatures.org. 

An Online Outlet is Born 

For anyone who has scored music they 
couldn't find anywhere else at 
CDBaby.com, rejoice: You can now do 
the same for independent films. 

Drawing from a great business model 
plus seven years of experience with CD 
Baby, Film Baby's mission is to deliver 
independent-only titles to movie buffs 
the world over. "I am a true fan of inde- 
pendent film and music," said Portland, 
Oregon-based Film Baby founder, Jamie 
Chvotkin. "If we are able to allow artists 
to earn a living, find an audience, and 
further the idea that corporations needn't 
have a place in the production of film, 
we'll have reached all of our goals as a 
company" 

This kind of attitude is a godsend for 
filmmakers who have had difficulties 
finding distribution for their low-budget, 
avant-garde, or hard-to-categorize work. 
From sci-fi flicks to virtual tours of for- 
eign lands, Film Baby pretty much sells 
anything. "We don't want to edit any- 
one's expression here," Chvotkin said. "It 



10 The Independent I May 2005 




Jamie Chvotkin is the founder of the Portland, Oregon-based Film Baby 
(courtesy of Jamie Chvotkin) 



isn't for us to decide what is worth watch- 
ing." The exception to their open arms 
policy is pornography, which is restricted 
from the site. 

Film Baby further helps filmmakers by 
taking on the task of creating a web page 
for every DVD title it sells. The page 
includes a two-minute trailer so cus- 
tomers get a good preview, a description 
of the film, the filmmaker's bio, customer 
reviews, press clippings, and links to 
other sites that are connected to the film. 
Most films retail for between $14.99 and 
$19.99, but each filmmaker is free to 
determine his or her price, with Film 
Baby keeping $4 of each sale. With 
online access to their accounts, filmmak- 
ers can keep tabs on how much they're 
selling and who's buying their work. 

As good as the site is to artists, Film 
Baby was created for fans. The site is 
extremely user-friendly so customers can 
focus on finding the movies they want to 
see, with about 20 new titles getting 
added a week. Unlike other web sites sell- 
ing DVDs, Film Baby only carries inde- 



pendent titles. "The philosophy that 
brought about the decision to shun stu- 
dio releases was the motivation to start 
the business in the first place," Chvotkin 
said. "The less restrictions placed on art, 
the more it will flourish." 

The variety of film subjects and styles 
is what Chvotkin believes really draws 
customers to Film Baby. "I think short 
films, documentary, and instructional 
films is where we sell the most right 
now," he said. In fact, one of Film Baby's 
best sellers is a documentary from France 
called Diabology, which is about juggling 
small, plastic cones. Ari Gold, a short- 
filmmaker from New York, is also a 
popular draw. 

Chvotkin promises Film Baby will fill 
the void in the indie film world for artists 
and enthusiasts alike. "It is going to take 
a while to build traffic to the site. We are 
not funded by investors, we don't have 
big bucks backing us," Chvotkin said. "It 
is just me — I have sold half my personal 
items on eBay to fund this site. And we 
would not have it any other way!" -k 



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May 2005 I The Independent 11 



UTILIZE IT 



Tools You Can Use 



Bv David Aim 



ikan's LCD Monitors 

This new line of LCD monitors from 
the Houston-based ikan Corporation are 
designed for both amateur and profes- 
sional use, and priced accordingly from 
just $89.95 for a 2.5-inch screen to $399 
for the largest, which measures 9 inches. 
All five in the series feature antiglare TFT 
displays with wide viewing angles, and 
they are all small enough to be used in 
virtually any environment. With both 




audio and visual connections, the V2500 
oilers the greatest versatility, while the 
higher-end V7000 and VT8000 provide 
such amenities as wide- and touch-screen 
capabilities, respectively. All monitors are 
both NTSC and PAL compatible. For 
details visit www.ikancorp.com. 



Gorilla Films 

This spring, Gorilla Films shaved off 
another lump on the film industry play- 
ing field using that great democratizing 
tool, the internet. The Hollywood-based 
firm's new web-based networking forum, 
at www.strongeyecontact.com, provides a 
central resource for the filmmaking 
community to find work or to staff a 
project, thus eliminating the middlemen 
who stand between an idea and its 
ultimate realization. The company hopes 
its site will beat the "800-pound gorilla" 
that is the commercial film industry, and 



ideally make obsolete William Faulkner's 
famous observation that "Hollywood is a 
place where a man can get stabbed in the 
back while climbing a ladder." 

UCLA Writers Program 

Get UCLA training for your own writ- 
ing projects from anywhere in the world. 
As part of the university's online exten- 
sion initiatives, the Writers Program at 
UCLA currently offers more than 50 
online screenwriting courses per year. 
Classes are taught by professional novel- 
ists, screenwriters, and nonfiction writers 
and focus on such skills as writing 
sitcoms, adapting narratives to the digital 
environment, and even how to build 
successful relationships in Hollywood. 
Tuition is $495 per course and time 
commitments vary between 10-15 hours 
per week over a 5-12 week period. Learn 
more at www.uclaextension.edu 
/onlineStudy. 

Cameras on the Fly 

Guerilla photography gets a 21st cen- 
tury makeover this spring thanks to a 



C °NC 0liD 
"500 






two-year contract between the Concord 
Camera Corp. and Source Interlink to 
market its camera in retail outlets around 
the country. Concord's lower-end digital 
cameras will sell for around $200 apiece 
at the checkout counters of regional 
drugstores, bridging impulse buying with 
high-tech. Future contracts will be deter- 



mined by how many people actually want 
to pick up a digital camera along with the 
latest Vanity Fair and a pack of chewing 
gum. We're watching. In the meantime, 
visit www.concord-camera.com for more 
information. 

Animation in China 

As China rapidly gains the status of 
global superpower in the new millenni- 
um, the country's film industry is keep- 
ing pace. The StarBoulevard Animation 
Company, located in the southern city of 
Shenzhen — China's animation capital — 
is a member of the China Animation 
Association and provides 2D and 3D 
design, live-action, broadcast design, 
special effects, post-production, and 
other services. Moreover, Shenzhen offers 
the sole training program for animation 
in all of South China, putting the 
company on par with the likes of Pixar 
and LucasArts. If you can read Cantonese, 
check out www.chinaimc.cn. Otherwise, 
wait until China westernizes just enough 
for the company to translate its site into 
English — probably not long off. 

Writers: Get Noticed, With a Little 
Help from Your Agents 

Writers are not often the most busi- 
ness-minded folk, leaving some of the 
finest screenplays forever unread in the 
dustbin of film history. Hence a new 
packaging service from Beverly Hills 
Literary Consultants, a former literary 
agency based in Los Angeles that current- 
ly seeks writers who need help cutting 
through the red tape of the Hollywood 
film industry. The company provides 
everything from editorial advice to 
custom-designed budgets, marketing 
strategies, and director/casting sugges- 
tions. Visit www.beverlyhillslit.com for 
more information, -k 



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May 2005 I The Independent 13 



ASK ft 



Fernanda Rossi 



the Documentary Doctor 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

I produced my film independendy, 
and I'm also trying to self-distribute, 
but a standard marketing budget is 
beyond what I can afford. Is this where 
my independence ends and my contact 
with a major distributor begins? 

Independent filmmaking hasn't hap- 
pened overnight but in three overlapping 
waves. What you are experiencing is the 
third wave: access to massive marketing. 
Advances in film technology comprised 
the first wave of independence — filmmak- 
ers didn't need studios to realize their 
dreamed films. Soon after, the first barrier 
emerged: Where can you show your film if 
huge media conglomerates own the 
monopoly on all major screening and 
broadcast venues? The second wave, 
democratization of venues, overcame that 
barrier. We saw the flourishing of cable, 
micro-cinemas, the internet and DVDs — 
all cemented by the continued efforts of 
pioneering filmmakers who travel across 
the country with their films strapped to 
the hoods of their cars. 

Now that you can make a documentary 
and screen it too, how do you bring peo- 
ple into the screening room? Can your 
website and email blast compete with a 



full ad in The New York Time?. Will some- 
one choose to see your film over all the 
other options available through media 
bombardment? The third and hopefully 
final barrier is equal access to marketing 
channels, but I wouldn't wait for another 
technology miracle to give every film a lair 
chance at being chosen. 

You can embark on healthy independ- 
ent self-promotion by first giving up your 
ego — not the ego that believes in your 
work and yourself but the ego hoping for 
an interview on "Oprah" or a full-sized 
poster in the subway station (options not 
too often available to documentary film- 
makers to begin with). Take the words 
from that Oscar speech you've been prac- 
ticing and use them to address your film's 
more urgent audience. 

By more urgent audience I mean the 
sub-group of people within your larger 
target audience that would immediately 
watch your film over any Blockbuster 
film, or even over the Super Bowl. Let's say 
your film is about autism. Your target 
audience are health workers and parents of 
autistic children. Who is your urgent audi- 
ence? Parents who just found out their 
children are autistic or maybe someone 
who runs an independent newsletter on 
autism. Your urgent audience is made up 



of those who are out there just waiting and 
hoping that your film existed, and they are 
your best allies. Your film is their priority, 
too, and they will do with you and for you 
whatever it takes to get it viewed by as 
many people as possible. 

By no means is this a new strategy, but 
it's a strategy worth revisiting. Remember 
that while massive marketing media might 
be in the hands of the big players, the mes- 
sage and the messengers (you) still matter. 

Dear Doc Doctor: 

After a lengthy detour, I'm coming 
back to filmmaking. Apart from having 
to learn new technology, I'm finding 
that crew relationships are a real chal- 
lenge. I've realized that I no longer 
know what I'm supposed to do and how 
much I should expect from my team. 

Your question is a dilemma that often 
goes unnoticed and if recognized, blamed 
almost entirely on personality conflicts, 
when in reality it's often about a paradigm 
shift. It used to be that someone could 
move up in the film production world by 
being the diligent assistant to those already 
in the aspired-toward position. Years of 
faithful dedication granted access to 
impossible-to-own equipment, people 



14 The Independent I May 2005 



with knowledge, and most importantly, 
endless hours of witnessing director-crew 
protocol and etiquette. It was a legacy 
passed horn film generation to film gener- 
ation, safely guarded by the unions and 
guilds that not only established standards 
but also enforced them. 

You probably don't look back to those 
days of pyramidal hierarchy with any 
nostalgia, since if today you aspire to be, 
say, a cameraperson, you can buy a cam- 
era, read the manual, take a weekend 
course, and become a cameraperson right 
away. No waiting period, no assisting 
anybody, no nothing. No chance to learn 
the subtleties of interpersonal crew rela- 
tionships either. 

So as new generations of filmmakers 
learn their trade on the spot — unsuper- 
vised and un-coached — those with experi- 
ence in customer service might actually 
fare better than the technology geeks. But 
don't leave it to chance. Just because you 
are independent doesn't mean you can't 
use the standards of the establishment. 

Assume nothing, and put it all in writ- 
ing. You can use the unions' and guilds' 
job description, guidelines, and sample 
contracts as a starting point. Talk through 
each point and include as many "what if" 
scenarios as possible. Give yourself "re- 
negotiation points" and "exit points" along 
the process to update the relationship. 

And in your case, you can check in 
with old buddies and see what's accept- 
able today. Were you a complete new- 
comer, I would suggest you use a mentor 
or someone else you trust as a sounding 
board for navigating exceptional scenar- 
ios. Because both then and now, people 
are people, and unexpected situations are 
bound to happen, "k 

Fernanda Rossi is a filmmaker and story 
consultant. She is also the author <?/Trailer 
Mechanics: A Guide to Making your 
Documentary Fundraising Trailer. For 
info, visit www.documentarydoctor.com. 

Want to ask the Doc Doctor a question for 
a future issue o/The Independent ? Write to 
her at info@documentarydoctor.com. 



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May 2005 I The Independent 15 



FIRST PERSON 



Secrets 
and 



LIES 




A Miramax script developer busts some industry myth-conceptions 



By Maureen A. Nolan 

You have become the thing that you 
have mocked. That's a paraphrase 
of a famous Shakespeare line, and 
it's also a line that often popped into my 
head after I became a script and story ana- 
lyst. By choosing to work on the develop- 
ment side of film, I had allied myself with 
the "thing" most screenwriters mock: the 
dreaded development executive. 

"How did this happen to me?" I rou- 
tinely asked myself. Like most grads of 
art school dramatic writing programs, I 
had bought into the belief that Dante got 
it wrong: He should have reserved the 
ninth, deepest, darkest, skankiest circle of 
hell for American film execs. I had fond 
memories of sitting in grubby classrooms 
listening to student writers rage against 
the day when their preciously pure work 
would be wrestled from their hands by 
the evil Hollywood dream machine and 
turned into commercial product to numb 
the minds of America. Once or twice, I 
remember muttering, "You should only 
be so lucky." But I knew that my class- 
mates' imaginary pain was very real to 
them, and so was the complicated ques- 



tion of what they would, should, or could 
do if asked to choose between their 
artistic integrity and a shot at commercial 
success. 

In school, we were often told that only 
a small percentage of the writers in our 
class would achieve working careers in 
the entertainment industry. We were 
willing to take this as truth. After all, we 
knew there were many more aspiring 
writers than shows or films produced. 
The numbers clearly meant that most of 
us wouldn't make it to career success, but 
some of the faculty found a clever way to 
protect us from the prospect of future 
failure. We were encouraged to redefine 
"success" as self-expression and to define 
screenwriters as artists using the medium 
of script solely for their own emotional 
satisfaction. 

One particular senior teacher was 
known to tell us tales of his disastrous 
Hollywood experience. As a screenwriter 
in the 60s and 70s, he wrote one notable 
film he considered worthy of him, artisti- 
cally and politically — and then went on 
to turn down any writing project he 



regarded as too "commercial" or too 
empty of artistic value. He stuck to his 
principles, and we admired him for it, 
but when he divided his total screenwrit- 
ing income by his number of working 
years, his average annual salary equaled 
what a middle-class college film professor 
would have earned. . .without the anguish 
and angst of dealing with life in Los 
Angeles. And so, a little embittered and a 
lot cynical, he told us to write for our- 
selves and not bother dreaming of an 
industry career. 

For his students, it was never a secret 
that we didn't buy his image of the purist 
artist, scribbling pages of perfect script to 
be locked away in desks or drawers and 
read, furtively, in the depths of night for 
the writer's private gratification. But we 
did learn to act blase about the concept of 
commercial success. And probably it was 
a lie that we didn't all yearn to see our 
names featured in screen credits or at least 
on big, fat paychecks that would allow us 
to live — and write — comfortably. 

There are writers who actually care 
about the perils of "selling out," but for 



16 The Independent I May 2005 



others, like my classmates, the queasy con- 
flict between art and money serves as a 
neat defense against fear of failure. If your 
work doesn't sell you can always tell your- 
self it isn't because you weren't 
talented or skilled enough — it was really 
because you were too high-principled to 
compromise your integrity. By fostering 
the concept of screenwriter as self- 
satisfied artist, writing programs — at least 
those that don't promote their students 
professionally — provide their writers with 
an emotional bailout for flopped careers. 
And also justify their own existence. 

This ploy — if we can call it that — is 
supported by a continuing confusion in 
American cultural values. We're taught to 
believe we can have it all — money, fame, 
success — and we're encouraged to think 
that we should. But we're also cautioned 
that money and the greed for it are the 
sources of all things evil in society. Popular 
film culture plays into this confusion with 
its own form of paradoxical positioning on 
the subject of values. So a film that may 
have cost millions to produce and may 
aim for millions in profits, might easily 
feature characters learning the lessons that 
love of money and success is shallow and 
inauthentic, especially compared with 
deeper, more humanistic values found in 
friendship, romantic love, self-sacrifice, 
and integrity. It's not surprising that 
screenwriters may end up puzzled and 
unclear about their own attitudes towards 
success and money, and what it may take, 
and cost, to achieve them. 

As an analyst and consultant, I've 
come to believe that it's useful for writers 
to grapple with these issues, because they 
may lead to potent creative questions 
about why a particular writer is driven to 
tell a particular story. For a writer, under- 
standing creative motivation and asking 
why a story should be told and what is 
the true purpose of the telling, helps the 
writer gain control over the material and 
the storytelling process. The more a 
writer knows about the "what" and "why" 
of a story, the easier it is to craft plot, 
structure, and character so the script 
accomplishes exactly what the writer 
intends it to do. 



The debate over "money versus mean- 
ing," if it brings insight to the writer, can 
become a powerful creative tool. But the 
debate becomes problematic when it 
inspires a number of lies, or myth-con- 
ceptions — including the big lie that the 
relationship between screenwriter and 
development executive is a spin on the 
battle between good and evil, with the 
writer as a virtuous David squaring off 
against the Hollywood Goliath to defend 
the meaning and value of story from crass 
commercial concerns. 

Early in my career, I began to learn 
some startling secrets about story devel- 
opment and the people who choose to 
work in the field. And most of those 
secrets turned on the exploding of several 
myth-conceptions. All development exec- 
utives are stupid: This is a standard 
screenwriter belief, but there's no truth to 
it. It may be accurate to say that develop- 
ment people, like people in any profes- 
sion, function at different levels of talent, 
skill, and experience. But the reality is 
that many development execs have a 
highly developed sense of story and a 
knack for figuring out how to maximize a 
particular story's potential. In part, their 
expertise comes from evaluating scores of 
scripts, but it also comes from having to 
talk about story issues and elements con- 
stantly. The result may well be that cer- 
tain producers and development people 
are more sophisticated on the subject of 
story — its form, function, meaning, and 
value — than many screenwriters can 
claim to be. 

As artists, writers hardly compromise 
their artistic integrity by collaborating 
with story experts who are smart and 
sophisticated about the writers' chosen 
art form. Which leads to another myth- 
conception: Even the smartest develop- 
ment people don't actually care about their 
stories — they care only about the prospect 
of distribution deals or big box office 
receipts. I can recall being taken to task 
by one development exec for a piece of 
book coverage. Apparently, I had left out 
the crucial "truth" that the main charac- 
ter's life, she said, was "miserable, miser- 
able, miserable" — and nobody would 



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May 2005 I The Independent 17 




May 12-23, 2 °°5 

new york city + Washington, d.c. 

Screenings and discussions with the filmmakers at 
MoMAand NMAI 

and other venues in Washington D.C. 

FIRST NATIONS\FIRST FEATURES presents 25 groundbreaking feature films by 
indigenous directors from around the world. Three institutions — the Museum of 
Modern Art (MoMA), the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian 
(NMAI), and New York University — have collaborated on this showcase. For the 
past two decades, Indigenous filmmakers have broken barriers to Native film pro- 
duction, receiving accolades from both Native and general audiences and winning 
prestigous recognition on the world stage. The showcase represents media produc- 
tion among a host of First Nations communities, including Indigenous Australian, 
Inuit, Maori, Native North and South American, Nenet, Rotuman and Sami. 

Symposium with the directors and guest moderators 
Paul Chaat-Smith and Jolene Rickard 

Cultural Creativity and Cultural Rights: On and Off Screen 

Thursday, May 12 | NMAI in NYC 
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

For a schedule of screenings, ticketing information and 

directions for both cities go to 

www.firstnationsfirstfeatures.org or call (212) 514.3737 




ever want to see it on screen. I didn't 
know whether to be amused or impressed 
by her passionate response to the charac- 
ter and his circumstances, but it was 
obvious that her imagination had entered 
the world of the story so completely that 
it was extremely real to her. 

In teaching screenwriters, I use this 
incident to suggest a note of hope: you 
will meet development execs and produc- 
ers who care about your stories and char- 
acters as deeply as you do. What they 
may not care about is your creative ego, 
your personal issues about "values," or 
your need for self-expression. They may 
wholeheartedly believe that the tradition- 
al three-act structure or the "hero's jour- 
ney" pattern provide the best framework 
for crafting screen stories that speak to an 
audience. And they may not care if you 
disagree. What's more, they may also 
believe that the true measure of a story's 
worth and meaning is the size of its 
audience — and that this naturally trans- 
lates into dollars. 

Finally, there are some secrets, lies, and 
myth-conceptions that development peo- 
ple may have uncovered for their own pur- 
poses. Writers are never lazy. This is a lie. 
They often are, and lackluster scripts often 
show a lack of real effort and imagination. 
Writers out for commercial success fare better 
than writers dedicated to their artistic 
integrity. They don't, because their so- 
called commercial scripts are usually too 
derivative and dull to deserve attention. 

And the biggest myth-busting secret 
truth of all? Stories have their own lives, 
separate from their creators. Believe it. If 
both writers and development people are 
aware of this, they can work in what I like 
to call "service of story." By serving the 
story, both sides may discover that there 
are times when integrity and success can 
go together. And when they do, great and 
memorable screen stories are born. ~~k 



18 The Independent I May 2005 




o 
o3 



E 



g 

INI 



00 



■8 

c 



By Rebecca Carroll 

Sometimes my friend Laura 
Donovan will call me out of the 
blue and just say these two words: 
"Macaw! Macaw!" Circa 1997, Laura told 
me about a small "independent" film 
called Bottle Rocket (An "independent" 
film? Fascinating. Do go on.) The film 
(which gained recognition almost entirely 
by word of mouth after its Columbia 
Pictures release in 1996), directed by a 
then lesser-known Wes Anderson, and 
written by Anderson with his friend, a per- 
haps even lesser-known Owen Wilson, is a 
pre-Napoleon Dynamite, and-by-geeky-I- 
mean-hip, somewhat dark, Holden 
Caulfield-esque comedic caper. It stars 
Owen as Dignan, along with his younger 
brother, Luke as Anthony, and in a small- 
er role, their older brother, Andrew as 
John Mapplethorpe (Future Man). 

Bottle Rocket was, for my generation, an 



introduction of sorts to independent film- 
making as we know it today (or the best of 
it anyway) — the story and writing were 
clever, original, and smart and made you 
feel like an insider lor getting it. And even 
better than independent filmmaking as we 
know it today, it wasn't just about watch- 
ing white people. I mean, sure, the bulk of 
the cast was white, but at the center of the 
film is a love story between Anthony and a 
beautiful Mexican maid (here I urge you 
to put images of Maid in Manhattan out 
of your mind) named Inez (Lumi 
Cavazos) — not because she's exotic and 
different and poor and needs saving, but 
because that's just whom Anthony falls in 
love with. 

In the nearly 10 years since, the native 
Texan Wilson brothers have worked 
together on various film projects, but none 
that they can call their own. The Wendell 



Baker Story, which opened Austin's SXSW 
Film Festival in March, is written by Luke, 
co-directed by Luke and Andrew, and stars 
Luke and Owen. I was at the film's pre- 
miere and I'm happy to say that, in the 
best ways, Wendell Baker shares quite a bit 
of overlap with Bottle Rocket. Following 
the premiere I had a chance to sit down 
and talk with Luke about the making of 
the film. 

Rebecca Carroll: I happened to be 
sitting right behind you last night at 
the premiere, and it just occurred to 
me how wild it must be and how dif- 
ferent to see a film that you have 
made and that is so personal to you. 

Luke Wilson: Yeah, well you could 
probably smell me. I was pretty wet with 
perspiration. 



May 2005 I The Independent 19 




Luke and Owen Wilson in the Wes Anderson-directed Bottle Rocket (Columbia Pictures) 



RC: But how different that must be 
from going to a premiere of, say, 
Charlie's Angels! 

LW: Yeah, it's not, "Hey, great hotel! 
I'm at the premiere!" It's much more 
like, "Okay, let's see what happens." My 
brother Owen was making fun of me 
saying: "Finally the iceman shows some 
emotion — gosh, you weren't like this at 
the Legally Blonde 2 premiere, were 
you?" 

RC: And why is that? 

LW: For me, it's mainly the writing of 
it. It's not so much that we directed it, 
but just for me it's the feeling of having 
written it, and knowing that any line 
that somebody doesn't like they can 
attribute to me. 

RC: Yeah, that's sort of what writ- 
ing is all about. 

LW: So I just started fixating on that 
in the last couple of days. 

RC: Less so than your own per- 
formance in the film? 

LW: Yeah, definitely. I'm thinking 
more about each character and what 
they're saying and how it flows and 
whether people connect with it. 

RC: So you're pretty OK with 
watching yourself on film? 



LW: I mean there are certain perform- 
ances I like more than others of course, 
but I actually like the character of 
Wendell. So I kind of have fun watching 
him, to tell you the truth. 

RC: One of my all-time favorite 
movies, I kid you not, is Bottle 
Rocket — I've seen it many times and 
have turned a lot of people on to it. Is 
this the first time you have all worked 
together on a feature since Bottle 
Rocket! 

LW: We were all in The Royal 
Tenenbaums, and then Owen wrote 
Rushmore with Wes Anderson, and we 
all had small parts in that too. So we've 
done films where we've all been on the 
same set since Bottle Rocket, but this is 
definitely the biggest collaboration since 
then and definitely the biggest of all, in 
terms of just us three guys. 

RC: I felt sort of nostalgic for Bottle 
Rocket while I was watching The 
Wendell Baker Story just because it has 
that same quirky, good-home, bizarre 
sort of feeling. I also happen to 
notice — and I don't know if other peo- 
ple do — but there are people of color in 
both, fairly prominendy. Often, with 
independent films and the independent 
film world, you almost never see people 
of color. Were you conscious of that 



when you were writing Wendell! 

LW: I just thought about it in terms 
of the story being about people coming 
across the border from Mexico — that 
was the thing. But the character of 
Doreen wasn't supposed to be Latina, it 
just ended up working out with the 
actress Eva Mendes. I guess maybe dif- 
ferences between people can make for 
humor or the opportunity to learn 
about each other. 

RC: What's with the prison 
theme — in both Wendell Baker and 
Bottle Rockeii And the jumpsuits? Did 
you guys wear jumpsuits when you 
were kids? 

LW: (Laughs) Are there any jumpsuits 
in this? 

RC: Of course there are. I mean — 
the white orderly uniforms. 

LW: We all grew up wearing uni- 
forms, so maybe that's it. We went to 
this school in Dallas where you had to 
wear gray slacks and a white shirt. One 
of my favorite stories is about when 
Owen was at UT, he ran into this kid 
[we went to school with], and the guy 
had just kept wearing his uniform from 
the school, but un-tucked. He just kept 
wearing the pants and the short sleeved 
white shirt, just walking across the UT 
campus. Which I kind of like — you 
know, the idea of wearing uniforms 
every day. But I don't know about the 
prison theme. 

RC: Capers? 

LW: Yeah, capers. I don't know — 
maybe it's just more fun to write stuff like 
that, or I guess probably easier than try- 
ing to write something like Schindler's 
List. 

RC: Wendell Baker is definitely a 
feel-good story. 

LW: Some little old woman asked me 
today, "So Wendell goes to prison, and 
he seems to have a good time." And it's 
like, obviously, it's not real. You know, if 
I were to get sent to prison I'd have a 
number of things I'd be worried about. 



20 The Independent I May 2005 





Owen Wilson and Eddie Griffin in The Wendell Baker Story (Laura Wilson/MHF Zweite Academy Film GmbH & Co.) 



I 
■ 



But this guy Wendells stoty is more like 
a fable or a joke. 

RC: It's fiction. 

LW: Yeah, it's fiction. It's like a guy 
going to college — jumps into it, has a 
great time, plays sports, meets nice people. 

RC: I think that we're at a weird time 
with movies insofar as what's fiction 
and what's not, especially since docu- 
mentaries are on the rise, and a lot of 
narrative films are taking on the task of 
conveying reality perhaps in an effort 
to compete. A film critic and co-pan- 
elist with me on a press panel here said 
to me that he was really concerned that 
your film advocated stalking — and I 
know he was at your press conference. 
Did he say anything about that? 

LW: I think if that guy wants to see a 
movie about stalking, he should watch 
Star 80. But yes, he said he was offended, 
very offended by the stalking. I didn't 
notice the stalking. I thought that's what 
you do when you're in love — you know, 
you kinda follow a girl for a while. . .In 
the beginning, doesn't it always start as 
stalking? 

RC: More importantly, it's a work 
of fiction. It's an imagined story. But 
did you feel personally attacked or 
offended by his concern? 



LW: It was just such a lame-ass 
question. I just didn't get it. And he 
couldn't have been more wrong. On his 
last try with Doreen, Wendell says, "She 
listened to what I had to say, and you 
know, I was lucky enough to have even 
met her." I mean, sure, he follows her 
around the grocery store, but I mean... 

RC: Again, I would say that we're at 
a difficult point particularly with inde- 
pendent film, as it sort of gains on the 
cusp of mainstream, in understanding 
what exactly is the responsibility of 
writing for film. How about just a 
good, old-fashioned story? 

LW: I don't think there is any responsi- 
bility. I don't think you need to have any, 
I mean. I think it's like a song. 

RC: To be put out in the world. 

LW: Yeah, you know, it's just different 
characters. That's like saying that it's dan- 
gerous to have the character in The 
Woodsman, you know, a pedophile, exist 
in a movie. But I think it does a service 
just to show things like that — to get 
people thinking. 

RC: So you do think it does a service? 

LW: Yeah, I do. 

RC: And what about on the other 
side — with a film like Schindler's List 



or Hotel Rwanda. Do those films have 
a responsibility? 

LW: I'd say they have a responsibility to 
get the story right. 

RC: And how can you though? 

LW: What you're saying is an interest- 
ing idea, but with something like 
Wendell Baker, I mean, he's a guy who 
wears a seersucker suit. 

RC: And looks really good in it. 

LW: Thanks. 

RC: Are you going to write and direct 
some more? 

LW: My brothers and I are going to try to 
do this thing together. 

RC: Like a company? 

LW: I don't know about setting up a com- 
pany. Those always seem to end up with 
empty offices. 

RC: You'll pay for the films yourself? 

LW: No, we won't. We'll find somebody 
else to pay for them. That'd be great 
though, too — do a Passion of the Christ, 
roll of the dice. 

RC: I don't know if we need another 
one of those. 

LW: I just like the idea of cutting out 
the middleman. ~k 



May 2005 I The Independent 21 




FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 

White: 

A Film 

Series 

How does 
American cinema 
address 
whiteness as a 
racial category? 

By Nicholas Boston 

On a blistering cold 
President's Day weekend 
this past February, "White: 
A Film Series" showed a modest Todd Haynes's 2002 film Far From Heaven, in which a housewife begins an affair with her black 

■ c ei tl M gardener, was inspired by Imitation of Life (Focus Features) 

selection or turns at 1 he New a r ' 

School in New York, and tried to 

live up to its title for an audience of about 

600 moviegoers. The festival sought to 

give an account of how American cinema needed to stick to a few areas of consid- al Oscars, was one of the offerings at the 

has addressed whiteness as a racial cate- eration, given the two limitations of the "White" festival. In fact, most of the fes- 

gory over the past 50 years. It was the film series: that it not exceed seven films aval's lineup was likely to be familiar to 

first festival to venture such a project. and that it [be] as accessible as possible to the average moviegoer (no obscure art- 

"We were intrigued by a completely a general audience." house titles here). Indeed, the familiarity 

fresh take on an issue that has been with It's no secret that the film festival between content and viewer was the fes- 

us for a long time," said Carin Kuoni, movement in this and other countries has tival's main strength. Audiences were 

director of the Vera List Center for Art played a significant role in exposing audi- asked to digest a package of cinematic 

and Politics at The New School, a ences to independent and low-budget representations with "whiteness" as its 

co-sponsor of the event. The festival was films. But festivals have also satisfied an nomenclature. As an exercise in viewing, 

also affiliated with the art exhibition, important political function in providing that's a far cry from watching a film in 

"White: Whiteness and Race in public forums where controversial topics isolation and interpreting its themes any 

Contemporary Art," launched in can be openly named and debated. Gay which way they might come to you. As 

December 2004 at New York's Intern- and lesbian culture, for example, started Berger pointed out, "The film festival 

ational Center of Photography. Both art going mainstream at roughly the same was introducing an idea never before 

show and film series were organized by time (the late 1990s) that queer film fes- explored in a film series. It was designed 

Maurice Berger, a cultural critic and tivals began cropping up. Prior to that, to help foreground an idea that still has 

author of the 1999 book, White Lies: films like Todd Haynes's 2002 film Far little currency in the popular press and 

Race and the Myths of Whiteness. From Heaven, starring Julianne Moore as culture." 

"I was interested in films that depicted a 1950s housewife whose conflicted mar- Could public awareness for the power 

the clearest possible images of whiteness, riage to a closeted gay man opens the of "whiteness" be the next social mission 

especially with regard to issues like white door to an affair with her African taken up by the film festival circuit? 

power, privilege, and racism," Berger American gardener, were not exactly The festival's roster was book-ended by 

said. "I wanted the films to represent standard headlining fare. Douglas Sirk's 1959 melodrama, 

attitudes over the past five decades. And I Far From Heaven, nominated for sever- Imitation of Life — about a biracial 

22 The Independent I May 2005 



woman who turns her back on her black 
mother and attempts to pass for white — 
and Far From Heaven, itself inspired by 
Sirk. In between were screenings of To 
Kill A Mockingbird, the 1962 adaptation 



of which the individual, if he or she man- 
ages to be good enough, can step. Here, 
whiteness is a moral sin, not an institu- 
tional ailment. Peck is handsome, sophis- 
ticated, and enlightened — a man who 



of Harper Lee's seminal novel of the same does the right thing. Never mind the 
name; Watermelon Man (1970), by blax- brutish segregationists and violent racists 
ploitation maverick Melvin Van Peebles, in the film — they're just backdrop, 
about a virulently racist white man who In White Dog, whiteness bears its big, 

wakes up one day to discover that he has white teeth — all the better to eat us with, 
"turned" black; White Dog (1982), a The film features 80s teen starlet Kristy 
hard-hitting, meeting-of-wills drama that McNichol, and the late stage-trained 
pits an African American dog trainer screen actor Paul Winfield, who plays the 
against a vicious, white canine trained to determined trainer out to deprogram his 
attack and kill black people; Hairspray canine charge. It is a powerful and alarm- 
(1988), director John Waters's musical ing film, one that could easily do double 
comedy about an overweight teenage duty at a film festival organized around 
girl's determination to desegregate the animal cruelty. But as we watch, we real- 
television dance show she performs on; ize that the harm done to this innocent 
and Bamboozled (2000), Spike Lee's par- creature (animals trained to savage others 
odic take on the ways in which blacks are have most likely been savaged them- 
represented on television when white selves) was carried out by some meanie 
producers are making the decisions. off-screen. For Samuel Fuller, White Dogs 

In the chronology of films, there was a director, that meanie assumed the form 
progression in filmmaker approach, most of Paramount Pictures, the film's distrib- 
notably with the more contemporary utor, which initially banned White Dogs 
films making use or 
humor and absurdity 
in a way that was 
off-limits to earlier 
productions. Films 
like Hairspray, 

Bamboozled, and 
Watermelon Man 
demonstrate how 
ludicrous American 
racial history is by 
presenting equally 
ludicrous characters 
(both black and 
white) and scenarios. 
Earlier films assume 
a more moralistic, 
some might say 
apologetic, stance 

on white tyranny. To Kill a Mockingbird, 
directed by Robert Mulligan, presents 
actor Gregory Peck as the munificent 
Southern lawyer defending a black man 
against charges or raping a white girl. 
This portrayal, cut from the swath or relations between whites and blacks, 
classic Hollywood drama, interprets There were no films that addressed how 
whiteness as a broad social problem out white power or privilege is exercised 




Br V£ \ *<BkN] 



To Kill a Mockingbird, another festival choice, examined the con- 
cept of "whiteness" in 1962 (Universal Pictures) 



release on the grounds that it was too 
graphic and disturbing. 

What was striking and somewhat iron- 
ic about the selections in "White: A Film 
Series" is that they were all films about 



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Dennis Haysbert plays the gardener in Far 
From Heaven (Focus Features) 



against other groups of color — Asians for 
example, or Latinos. This gap begged the 
question: Is whiteness only "white" when 
it rubs up against blackness? 

"Since [the festival] attempts to reach a 
general audience — including white peo- 
ple for whom the idea of 'whiteness' and 
the need for its examination remains 
relatively unknown — I tended to stick to 
a handful of key issues," said Berger, who 
is white. "Interestingly," he added, "the 
response to the series often fell into two 
camps: people of color who were relieved 
that a white curator was willing to see 
whiteness in such an honest way, and 
white people who said that they had 
never before thought of these issues, 
especially in relation to themselves." 

As a festival, "White" may show white 
people, who might think otherwise, that 
yes, there is a social significance to race — 
even their own. What, I wonder, does it 
show everybody else? 7^ 



24 The Independent I May 2005 



PRODUCTION JOURNAL 



*Neal? 




Choosing to document a damaged man 



By Chris Deleo 



I met Neal Hecker in 1991. We were 
both in our early 20s and stocking 
shelves at a local health food store 
on Long Island, New York. I couldn't put 
my finger on it at the time, but there was 
something about Neal that made me 
want to know more about him. He 
reminded me or Franz Kafka. Like Kafka, 
who poured so much of his energy and 
writing into Felice, his great love and 
muse, Neal had Jennifer, a girl whom he 
had once kissed when they were both 14 
years old. 

Neal never recovered from his puppy 
love for Jennifer, and over a decade later 
he was still mailing her long, elaborate 
love letters. He would leave desperate 
messages on her answering machine, 
sometimes sobbing until the tape ran out. 
He explained to me how his feelings for 
Jennifer were wrapped up with his feel- 
ings toward his mom, having been reject- 
ed by both women. He couldn't resolve 
the issue with Jennifer because it went 
too far back in his psyche. 

But in 1997, Neal met Alice, a preco- 



cious high school teenager. Despite their 
age difference (Neal then 30, and Alice 
15), the two became friends. They spoke 
on the phone a few times, had lunch in 
the city, and took a walk through Central 
Park. When I interviewed Alice shortly 
after they met, she made it very clear that 
while she thought Neal was an interesting 
guy, there were absolutely no romantic 
feelings on her end. Neal, however, was 
prepared to wait until Alice turned 1 8 to 
pursue his very romantic feelings. He 
wanted to marry Alice, and when she told 
him the feelings were not mutual, Neal 
was heartbroken. 

"TTonestly, I can't even begin to imagine 
Neal's fate if he weren't a talented and 
prolific artist. You always read about the 
dysfunctional lives of artists and how 
they were saved or reborn through their 
work. In Neal's case, this seems all the 
more poignant. Since I've known him, he 
has produced dozens of detailed collages 
and has written countless hours of solo 
acoustic guitar music. His collages are 
wild and hit you like a polo mallet. They 



appear to stand as a monument to his 
childhood and deeply felt autobiographi- 
cal experiences. 

After several emotional setbacks, a sui- 
cide attempt, and an extended stay at 
New York Hospital, Neal took his moth- 
er up on her offer to come live with her 
in the Kings Park house she shared with 
her boyfriend, Vinny. I can't recall exact- 
ly how or why, but shortly after he settled 
in, Neal got it into his head that Vinny 
was out to kill him. He was sure Vinny 
was going to poison him or murder him 
in his sleep. Consequently, Neal began to 
devise elaborate schemes to avoid seeing 
Vinny face to face, like urinating into 
glass fruit juice bottles that he kept by the 
side of his bed. It was "so much easier this 
way," he told me. Being a creative guy, he 
later devised a makeshift toilet from an 
old hamper by lining it with trash bags 
and filling it with kitty litter. He kept his 
little toilet in a shed in his mom's back- 
yard, and during the night, Neal would 
click on a flashlight, climb out of his bed- 
room window, and make his way to the 



May 2005 I The Independent 25 



shed to do his business. The bags were 
stored in the trunk of his car. Once a 
week, Neal would drive around Suffolk 
County and hurl them into dumpsters. 

There was a dramatic component at 
work here. Tension and adversity, 
whether self-inflicted or not, were all 
around him. It was during this time that 
the initial idea to make a documentary 
about Neal came to me. His life seemed 
to have it all. There was unrequited love, 
parental abandonment, mental illness, 
antagonism, weird habits, and artistic 
ambition. 

Neal and I talked it over. He was skep- 
tical at first and wondered if I could make 
a "real movie" using only a simple video 
camera. He also questioned whether his 
life story would be compelling enough 
for people to care about. I suggested we 
start by filming a few conversations, as 
well as his ritual in the shed. Reluctantly, 
he agreed. 

As far back as I can remember I've 
wanted to make a movie. The fact that I 
had no money, never went to film school, 
and didn't own a camera, seemed beside 
the point. My first order of business then 
was to purchase the most expensive cam- 
era I could afford. It was a Canon 
ES6000, which cost MasterCard $1,100. 
I also picked up some magazines and a 
couple of books on basic photography 
and video camera technique. The first 
few hours of filming were dry and 
uneventful. Mostly it was Neal milling 
about in the shed, describing his bath- 
room habits, showing me his artwork, or 
obsessing over Jennifer or Alice. I liked 
what I was hearing though. Neal has this 
way of talking. ..it's almost literary. And 
then eventually, Neal introduced me to 
his mother. 

What can I say about Anne? She's 
poetic, lovable, and artistic. Anne and 
Neal in front of the camera looked like 
something out of an Ingmar Bergman 
movie. They talked openly about Anne 
having abandoned Neal when he was 
only 5 years old. They chatted freely 
about Neal's suicide attempts and the 
time he spent in New York Psychiatric 
Hospital. They discussed Bill (Neal's dad) 



and the divorce, and how Bill had to raise 
three children alone while Anne secluded 
herself and battled her own mental ill- 
ness. All I had to do was turn on the cam- 




Neal and his mother, Anne (Chris Deleo) 

era and make sure it was in focus, because 

they were never at a loss for conversation. 

Saturday mornings were my favorite 



time to film. When I arrived at Anne's 
house she was usually in the midst of 
making breakfast — a poached egg, coffee, 
and toast. Vinny was at work, and Neal 
was always fast asleep. After a cup or two 
of her delicious coffee, I would turn on 
my camera and talk with Anne. Neal 
used to joke about us having a secret 
affair. When Neal woke up he'd always 
head straight for the shed. Anne never 
seemed to mind Neal's unorthodox use of 
her shed. Having grown up in a house 
with an overbearing father, Anne 
empathized with her son's need for priva- 
cy, and to a lesser degree, understood his 
fear of Vinny. 

Over time, more and more people 
became part of the filming of Why Neal. 
Friends, co-workers, siblings, love inter- 
ests, all had something to say when it 



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Deleo's circular plot diagram made his 
editing process easier (Chris Deleo) 



26 The Independent I May 2005 




Cover art for the film Why Neal? 
(Chris Deleo) 



came to Neal. I also called Jennifer sev- 
eral times, but couldn't convince her do 
to an interview. Her friend Virginia 
explained on camera: "Jennifer wants 
nothing to do with Neal," and he 
should leave her alone. Ironically, it was 



Jennifer who titled the film. During 
one of our phone conversations she 
paused and asked, "Why make a movie 
about Neal? Why Neal?" We hope the 
film answers Virginia's question. 

It was always Neal's intention to 
leave his mother's house and move out 
on his own. His original plan was to 
stay with her for a couple of months 
until he got back on his feet. That cou- 
ple of months turned into three years. 
But at the end of filming, Neal moved 
out and into a yoga ashram. 

I shot 150 hours of rootage over the 
course ol two years. The entire project 
cost me less than $2,000. When people 
watch the film, they never know 
whether they should laugh or be horri- 
fied. I always encourage them to laugh. 
Meanwhile, I'm trying to sell Why Neal. 
Being a team of one can take its toll. 
Neal helps out when he can — once a 



week we both head into Manhattan to 
pitch the movie to distributors. Having 
Neal there in the flesh and shaking 
hands with people really helps drive 
home the quirkiness of the film. But the 
work of promoting this film is never- 
ending. To be honest, sometimes I want 
to quit everything — I want to quit 
everything and move far away.. .maybe 
to the French Quarter in New Orleans. 
One day a few months ago, Elisa 
Haradon, a talented documentary film- 
maker living in Seattle, emailed me 
after reading a review of Why Neal. She 
connected deeply with the film, and 
thanks to her, we now have a website — 
www.whyneal.com — that she has 
designed from the ground up. It's peo- 
ple like Elisa, with her enthusiasm and 
positive energy towards the film that 
have kept me sane and wanting to make 
more movies. ~k 




May 2005 I The Independent 27 



ONTHE SCENE 



Cable 

for 

Film 

Geeks 



The Z Channel is keeping the 
IFC edgy 



By Sarah J. Coleman 

Imagine a cable television channel that 
serves your every need as a lover of 
independent film. When you want to 
see the best contemporary foreign 
movies, they're right there for you, along 
with eclectic and provocative fare from all 
over North America. This is a place 
where forgotten masterpieces are 
restored, directors' cuts prevail, and 
Jacqueline Bisset gets her very own festi- 
val. Or perhaps you're in the mood for a 
blockbuster? That's there, too. And as a 
subscriber, you get a programming guide 
filled with commentary by some of the 
sharpest film critics around. 

If that sounds too good to be true, it 
probably is — these days anyway. But 
from 1974 to 1989, the Z Channel in 
Los Angeles was all of the above. Perhaps 
the ultimate film geek's cable channel of 
all time, Z offered its subscribers pro- 
gramming that ran the gamut from the 
far fringes of obscurity to the heart of 
Hollywood. On any given night, viewers 
might tune in r o find films by Luis 




Bunuel, Henry Jaglom, Andrei 
Tarkovsky, Robert Altman, or George 
Lucas. Movies with tarnished reputa- 
tions, like Michael Cimino's epic Heaven's 
Gate got a new life when they were 
shown on Z as directors' cuts. In its 1 5 
years, Z Channel inspired what was 
almost a cult following (no subscriptions 
were ever canceled) — that is, until its 
troubled head programmer Jerry Harvey 
killed his wife and committed suicide, 
hastening the channel's end. 

The documentary Z Channel: A 
Magnificent Obsession, airing on IFC May 
9, explores the crazy brilliance of Z 
Channel and traces the tragic arc of 
Harvey's life. Written and directed by 
Xan Cassavetes (daughter of John), the 
documentary illuminates a pivotal era in 
the history of independent films — a time 
when audiences had a thirst for movies 
from all over the globe, when directors 
like Nicolas Roeg and Henry Jaglom 
found that even if they couldn't get a 
major distribution deal, they could find 



an audience on Z. 

Z Channel was "an unpretentious, 
eclectic, beautiful view of all kinds of 
film. It wasn't elitist, it was for the peo- 
ple," says Cassavetes, who has fond mem- 
ories of watching the channel as a teenag- 
er, after being grounded by her father for 
sneaking out to punk rock clubs. The 
punishment didn't seem too harsh when 
she got to discover directors like 
Kurosawa and Bunuel, or watch an edgy 
movie like Roeg's Bad Timingm the com- 
fort of her own home. "Kids were able to 
see a movie like Bad Timing, [and get a] 
serious glimpse into the lives of adults," 
she says. "These days it's so hard even to 
find a movie with adult themes for 
adults, let alone for kids to sneak into." 

Along with the documentary, IFC 
viewers will also get a chance to see some 
of the films that had their destinies 
altered when they were shown on Z. 
Immediately after the documentary 
screens, IFC will be showing Oliver 
Stone's Salvador (1986), whose star, 



28 The Independent I May 2005 




The IFC will show Oliver Stone's Salvador (1986) as part of their Z Channel tribute 



James Woods, credits his Academy Award 
nomination and subsequent career to the 
film's exposure on Z. Then, on May 14 
and 1 5, a whole weekend will be devoted 
to classic films whose destiny was influ- 
enced somehow by the Z Channel. Chief 
among these is Heaven's Gate, a western 
that went massively over-budget and was 
initially panned by critics as being un- 
American and a general mess. When 
Harvey found a single print of the direc- 
tor's cut languishing in a London ware- 
house and showed it on Z, critics reap- 
praised the film positively. The director's 
cut now prevails on video. 

All of this programming seems partic- 
ularly fitting for IFC, Executive Vice 
President Evan Shapiro says, since "with- 
out Z Channel there probably wouldn't 
have been an IFC." Though times have 
changed since the Z Channel's heyday — 
back then, says Cassavetes, "it was possi- 
ble to license films lor less than trillions 
of dollars" — Shapiro says that IFC is 



working hard to replicate the kind of cut- 
ting-edge, eclectic programming that Z 
pioneered. Just as Z Channel organized a 
slate of programming around a particular 
actor, director, or movie, Shapiro says, 
IFC creates its own mini "festivals" — the 
"Z Channel Weekend," for example. And 
no matter what the FCC says, you'll 
never see IFC cutting or censoring live 
broadcasts such as the Independent Spirit 
Awards. "In a world where even Chris 
Rock can be boring on the Oscars, we let 
Sam Jackson and everyone in Hollywood 
have control of the stage, live, without 
commercials," Shapiro says. "That's pret- 
ty ballsy. The same is true ol our pro- 
gramming. We don't alter the art; content 
is always king for us." 

All of which explains why a documen- 
tary about a troubled programmer from a 
small cable station in Los Angeles who 
killed himself and his wife found a home 
at IFC Productions. "Even HBO might 
have looked at that and said, it's a small 






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Christopher Walken in Heaven's Gate 
(United Artists) 

story for a small audience," Shapiro says. 
"We thought it was bigger than that. We 
saw the legacy of Jerry Harvey being tied 
to the legacy of independent film. He fur- 
thered the cause of independent film and 
auteurs in a way that few others have." 

In the film, Harvey comes across as a 
complex character — brilliant and driven, 
but spiky and pessimistic, haunted by the 
suicides of two older sisters. A former 
assistant programmer at Z Channel 
remembers being summoned to his office 
one morning and being told, "I don't like 
the air you breathe; I don't like the 
ground you walk on." But Harvey's total 
devotion to film is obvious, and he is 
warmly remembered by friends and 
Hollywood luminaries alike. Director 
Stuart Cooper, who was plucked out of 
obscurity by Harvey and given a "Stuart 
Cooper Month" on Z, remembers how 
Harvey was sensitive to "how someone 
had been slighted when they shouldn't 
have been slighted, or beaten up when 
they shouldn't have been beaten up." 

Z Channel's fortunes began unraveling 
when the stock market crashed in 1987, 
and the channel's owner, a small media 
company in Seattle, was forced to bail 
out. Harvey attempted to save Z's 
prospects by accepting a merger with 
Spectacore, a sports channel. At around 
the same time, Z became entangled in a 



complicated lawsuit, and Harvey found 
himself in court, giving lengthy deposi- 
tions against colleagues at other cable 
channels. The end was nigh: a week after 
Z plus Sports was launched in April 
1988, Harvey shot his wife to death and 
then turned the gun on himself. Z plus 
Sports limped along for another year 
before going off the air forever. 

Shapiro says that there's a lesson to be 
learned from the Z Channel's trajectory, 
and IFC will never make the kinds of 
compromises that drove Z Channel off the 
air. "Remaining independent in an era 
where it's much easier and more profitable 
to do otherwise is probably the most 
courageous thing we've done," he says of 
IFC's 10-year history. Of course, "inde- 
pendent" is in the eye of the beholder. IFC 
is part of Rainbow Media Holdings LLC, 
which also runs AMC, Fuse, and the WE 
(Women's Entertainment) channel, and is 
a subsidiary of the cable company 
Cablevision. "Cablevision is not a small, 
teeny-tiny company, but when you look at 
the convergence of media messages out 
there, we are considered independent," 
Shapiro says. "We're a small, independent 
television channel that's part of a small, 
independent corporate parent." 

Recently, IFC found what it felt was the 
perfect voice to express its spirit of inde- 
pendence: Green Day's "Jesus of 



30 The Independent I May 2005 




James Woods, (in Salvadore) credits his Academy 
Award nomination to the film's exposure on Z 



Suburbia," the 9-minute-plus anthem that 
anchors the bands Grammy Award-win- 
ning American Idiot album. In March, 
IFC and Green Day inked a deal that will 
see IFC using "Jesus of Suburbia" in its 
on- and off-air promotions for the coming 
year, as well as giving the song repeated 
exposures on the channel. It will become 
"our audio calling card and the voice of 
our vision," says Shapiro, who likes the 
idea that "you could get a 45-year-old pro- 
fessor in Amherst, Massachusetts to listen 
to a little Green Day because it's connect- 
ed to an independent film and an 18-year- 
old tech-head who loves Green Day to be 
enticed by a title he might not otherwise 
have seen." 

Given that American Idiot has been 
embraced by people with a grudge 
against the current occupant of the 
White House (at a recent Green Day 
concert in London, the audience joyfully 
chanted "Idiot America!"), partnering 
with Green Day could be seen as a polit- 
ical statement on IFC's part. Shapiro 
insists, however, that the album is essen- 
tially nonpartisan: "It speaks about not 
wanting to be a conformist — about 
things that every independent free 
thinker in this country probably feels at 
one time or another." 

And where Z Channel employed leg- 
endary critic F.X. Feeney to write reviews 



in its programming guide, IFC has 
Henry Rollins, whose "Henry's Film 
Corner" debuted last December. 
Formerly the lead singer of the punk 
band Black Flag, Rollins is an explosive 
personality who's as likely to hold forth 
on why he doesn't like dating southern 
Californian women as he is to launch 
into a diatribe about the lameness of 
Terminator 3. "We love Roger Ebert and 
all the film reviewers out there, but some- 
times when you've been working in the 
film industry for many years, it's hard to 
see the forest for the trees," Shapiro says. 
"Henry won't be edited, so he's probably 
not going to get a show on a major net- 
work. We feel he belongs on IFC for that 
very reason." 

"Henry's Film Corner," Green Day, 
the "Z Channel Weekend" — they're all 
ways of keeping IFC relevant, edgy, and 
viable. But Shapiro says IFC will never 
lose sight of its core mission, or "shake 
free from the moorings of our begin- 
nings" as the home for independent film 
on television. The station's new tagline — 
"TV, uncut" — expresses what Shapiro 
sees as IFC's promise to viewers: "No 
crap, no clutter, just kickass shows and 
kickass films." 

Wherever it is, the troubled spirit of 
Jerry Harvey can rest in peace. ~k 



Film Talk 







JAMES IVORY IN CONVERSATION 

How Merchant Ivory Makes Its Movies 
by Robert Emmet Long 

Foreword by Janet Maslin 
"This series of conversations. ..informs and 
engages. Ivory charmingly speaks about a 
career that includes credits ranging from A 
Room with a View to Surviving Picasso. He 
offers insight into his technique and artistic 
approach, selection of subject matter, 
choice of actors, and interactions with asso- 
ciates like producer Ismail Merchant and 
writer Ruth Prawer )habvala.... Illuminating 
and often humorous. "-LIBRARY JOURNAL 
$24.95 hardcover 

THE MOST TYPICAL AVANT-GARDE 

History and Geography 

of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles 

by David E. James 

"Transforms our sense of the history and 
geography of American independent cinema." 
-SCOTT MACDONALD, 
author of the Critical Cinema Series 
$29.95 paperback, $65.00 hardcover 

At bookstores or 
(800) 822-6657 • www.ucpress.edu 

University of 
California Press 



May 2005 I The Independent 31 



Gregg Araki Gets 

Mysterious 



PLEASING THE POST-PREFERENCE GENERATION WITH A 
SHOCKINGLY UNSHOCKING NEW FILM 



BY LISA SELIN DAVIS 

Gregg Araki is George 
Bush's worst night- 
mare. In Araki's paral- 
lel cinematic univers- 
es, the mainstream is subverted, 
what the right wing would label "deviant" is normalized, and 
outcasts and outsiders dominate, calling the shots from the cen- 
ter. His films' usual thematic mix includes teenagers coming of 
age, gay sex, violence, drugs, and space aliens. Araki intends nei- 
ther to indict nor explain these subjects and subcultures, but to 
legitimize them by not even admitting they're controversial. 
"I'm not out with any of my movies to shock people or outrage 
people or push people's buttons," he says. But some people do 
find his vision shocking, enough so that one blogger accused 
Araki's work of having "no moral center." Araki couldn't dis- 
agree more. 

"As the person that makes these movies, I feel they have a very 

32 The Independent I May 2005 




•as 

.2 u- 






strong moral center," he says. 
"They're presented as a story of 
grays and not black and whites. 
Not a TV movie." His goal is to tell 
new stories, not to rehash the same 
tired plots we've all seen before. "That [don't] give the audience 
any credit for being intelligent or creative," he says. 

After eight films, the 45-year-old Araki has a cult following, 
an audience that is certain to widen with his latest film, 
Mysterious Skin, released this month from Tartan Films. He 
seems to have created a genre all his own, though it's hard to 
know what to call it. Beach party flick meets Troma Brothers 
meets Godard meets gay subculture? Araki himself described his 
1993 film Totally F***ed Up as "a rag-tag story of the fag-and- 
dyke teen underground... A kind of cross between avant-garde 
experimental cinema and a queer John Hughes flick." 

Yes, there's a sci-fi element, and there's sex and violence, with 



the line between them often blurting. But there's another 
theme, too — one that becomes obvious if you take in his full 
oeuvre. Each of his films, really, is about the quest for true love 
and acceptance and for a place to feel at home. And what Araki 
offers the characters in his films, people who might otherwise be 
looked upon as "freaks" by the mainstteam, is a safe haven, 
albeit a cinematic one. 

"My movies are often misinterpreted as being nihilistic and 
dark," Araki says. "My 
movies at their core are 
extremely romantic in 
that they're sort of about 
this idealized seatch lor 
love in a world of chaos 
and confusion." 

Araki was born in Los 
Angeles and grew up in 
Santa Barbara. As a 
child, he spent hours 
drawing, and by 9 years 
old he had created his 
own series of comic 
books. "I've always been 
kind of an artistic spit- 
it," he says. As an 
undergraduate at the 
University of California 
at Santa Barbara, Araki 

studied film history, and it was then that he began to take cine- 
ma seriously, to funnel all of his artistic energy into film. He 
went on to receive a master's of fine arts in film production at 
the University of Southern California, and he credits his formal 
film education with helping to define his cinematic sensibility. 

"I was exposed at a young age to the breadth of film history 
and a pantheon of auteurs," he says. He feels this is what sepa- 
rates him from the next generation of independent filmmak- 
ers — those who are attempting to emulate recent film sensations 
rather than studying the mastets. He calls them "Sundance-y 
kind of directors" and "Quentin Tarantino wannabes," pointing 
out that Tarantino learned by studying the films of everyone 
from Ozu to Truffaut, not from Hollywood hits that came out 
three years ago. "They don't have a sense of any kind of tradi- 
tion. They've never really gone to the original source." 

You can spot the influence of these movie masters if you look 
closely into Araki's work: He calls Totally F***ed Up his own 
Masculine, Feminine (1966): "I wanted to make this film about 




Joseph Gordon-Levitt (front) stars as Neil 
(Tartan Films) 



these gay teenagers the way Godard used Masculine, Feminine as 
an examination of French society at a certain time," Araki says. 
In The Doom Generation (1995), the second in Araki's "teen 
apocalypse trilogy," you can find cinematic quotations from 
Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin (1925). And in Splendor (1999), 
he recreates Annie Leibovitz's famous shot of John Lennon curl- 
ing himself around Yoko Ono, and there are several Busby 
Berkeley-style overhead shots, as well. 

But as much as Araki 
has been inspired by 
cinematic greats like 
Vertov or Kurosawa, 
two genres of American 
movies predominantly 
influenced him: what 
he calls the "couple-on- 
the-run" movies and 
screwball comedies. 
"They're both about 
the romantic notion of 
pute love in an impure 
and violent and dan- 
gerous world," he says. 
Along with his over- 
all love of cinema, add 
one more ingredient 
and you begin to under- 
stand more completely 
the Araki mindset. That last ingredient is punk. "We were so 
hugely influenced by the whole punk rock movement of the 70s 
and 80s, that philosophy of that kind of D-I-Y, garage band, do- 
what-you-want-and-be-true-to-youtself," Araki says. "That sen- 
sibility was so important to me." 

Araki's "marching to your own drum" value system and his 
cinematic education are what make up the Araki vision — stories 
that, until Mysterious Skin, were rooted in Los Angeles. 
Although often, his films take place in an LA with none of the 
iconic landscapes — no Hollywood sign, no Hollywood and 
Vine, no Melrose Avenue; that's not the part of LA that inter- 
ests Araki. "I've always had a very tight relationship with Los 
Angeles," he says. "There is really an element in everyday life in 
LA of the surreal and unexpected and the strange mixing in 
with the ordinary and the mundane.... You can see aliens walk- 
ing down the street, and you just don't really blink." Indeed, in 
1977's Nowhere (the third "teen apocalypse trilogy" film), an 
extraterrestrial follows a band of teenagers, who are unfazed by 



a teenage hustler, in Mysterious Skin 



May 2005 I The Independent 33 



his recurrence. Its nearly impossible to tell whether he's an actu- 
al menace or an ineffectual poser in a costume. And in the end, 
no one around the creature seems to care. 

That's not necessarily indifference, but a kind of tolerance. 
"Los Angeles is so big and sprawling, and there's a really kind of 
laissez-faire attitude towards people," Araki says. "It's not a big 
deal that somebody is gay or straight or bisexual or has purple 
hair or is black or Asian. Everybody just sort of does their thing 
and people don't really pay that much attention to you. I really 
appreciate that about living here." 

That laissez-faire attitude towards sex and sexuality, race and 
religion is what sets Araki's films apart. They are films for what 
might be called the post-preference generation — kids who are 
not concerned with categories of sexuality. (It's a term used by 
magazines like Details that cater to both sides of the gay/straight 
line or don't even distinguish between them.) And Araki extends 
that acceptance beyond sexuality, to race and creed — even to 
other-than-human species. 

Something else you'll notice about Araki's films is that he 
manages to get fairly big stars to participate in them, along with 
near-forgotten teen idols, faded beauties, and rising stars. Folks 
like Lauren Tewes (that's Julie, your cruise director from "The 
Love Boat"), and Jan and Peter (from "The Brady Bunch") Eve 
Plumb and Christopher Knight have made cameos in Araki 
movies. The cast lists tend to look like a catalog of Hollywood 
then, now, and later: Christina Applegate, Shannen Doherty, 
Ryan Phillipe, Heather Graham, Mena 
Suvari, Charlotte Rae (Mrs. G!), Margaret 
Cho, Perry Farrell, Heidi Fleiss, Beverly 
D'Angelo, Traci Lords, John Ritter... Araki 
manages to cull actors from all ranks of the 
Hollywood social structure. "I've been so 
lucky in getting people to go on this ride 
with me, and everybody doing it for the 
right reason, for the artistic rewards 
involved," Araki says. 

Based on a novel by Scott Heim, 
Mysterious Skin is a departure from many of 
his earlier projects, in what may be a new 
level of artistic reward for both the cast and 
the audience. Here, he leaves behind much 
of the irony, sarcasm, and gore that catego- 
rized his previous work and trades in the comic book look of 
earlier works for something more stylized, ethereal, and dream- 
like that, like a spoonful of sugar, helps us ingest the difficult 
subject matter of the movie. It's also his first film to take place 
outside of Los Angeles, along the flat planes of Kansas, with 
some scenes in New York City. 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the former young star of television's 
"Third Rock from the Sun") stars as Neil, a teenage hustler, and 
Brady Corbet plays Brian, a disturbingly non-sexual teenage 
boy who believes he's been abducted by aliens. "Scott's idea to 
link the idea of alien abduction and being violated and taken 
out of your own body is such an incredibly beautiful metaphor 



for what happens to young Brian," Araki says. 

In the film, the two boys share a traumatic childhood inci- 
dent that some might say influences Neil's choice to become a 
hustler, but lies dormant in the mind of Brian. The film is not 
an indictment of the abuser or a finger-pointing after-school 
special. It is more of an examination of how the experience 
manifests in two separate people — a character study of two 
boys, portrayed with brave vulnerability by the two lead actors. 
"Nobody's presented as this cardboard cutout of the bad guy 
and the good guy," Araki says. In other words, the goal here is 
empathy: to enter the minds of the characters, and understand 
the way in which they view their world. "It sheds a light and 
makes you go through that experience, and you really sort of 
understand it in a way that I don't think is possible if it didn't 
happen to you." 

That very lack of moral condemnation or preaching is what 
opens the film and allows one to enter inside. "The most shock- 
ing thing about Mysterious Skin is how not shocking it is," Araki 
says. "The book is this dark and unsettling story told in this 
poetic and beautiful language. We wanted to translate the beau- 
ty of the prose into cinematic beauty, something that was visu- 
ally lush." 

Viewing the deeply unsettling, visually striking, gorgeously 
shot, and powerfully acted film is a bit of a roller coaster ride. "I 
didn't want it to be a dark, gritty, hand-held DV movie — this 
jarring thing to watch," Araki says. "There's a weird kind of 

dreamy quality to it 
that makes it almost 
the opposite of a 
Larry Clark movie. 
Mysterious Skin is 
really oddly very wel- 
coming and almost 
soothing to watch." 

Well, not exactly 
soothing. Watching 
Go rdon- Levi t t's 
fierce portrayal of 
Neil, the young hus- 
tler who submits 
himself to one dan- 
gerous situation after 
another, is not easy. In one particularly violent sexual encounter, 
Neil is repeatedly hit over the head with a bottle of Johnson's 
baby shampoo before being sodomized. But this is, in some 
ways, typical Araki — in your face, rough to watch, and then 
that strange flash of irreverent humor. 

Mysterious Skin is Araki's first adapted screenplay (all others 
were original), and yet it contains that usual Araki lineup of 
characters and ideas — the gay youth, the science fiction, the sex, 
and the violence. But it's all handled with delicacy, a much more 
serious, internal, character-driven drama than we've seen from 
him before — more mature and nuanced, and one that will 
probably appeal to a wider audience. "Particularly older women 




Mysterious Skin is Araki's first adapted screenplay (Tartan Films) 



34 The Independent I May 2005 




-J 

Mysterious Skin is deeply unsettling, visually striking, gorgeously shot, and powerfully acted (Tartan Films) 



are responding really strongly to the movie," Araki 
says. "I think it's this maternal instinct with regard 
to the two boys." Oscar-nominated actress Elisabeth 
Shue (Leaving Las Vegas, 1995) gives a notable per- 
formance in the film as Neil's mother. 

You might not know it from the words in his 
films' titles — "nowhere" and "P**ed up" — all hav- 
ing to do with doom and despair and the world end- 
ing, but Araki is essentially an optimist. He remains 
undeterred by the bumps and snags along his film- 
making journey (seven times during our conversa- 
tion he repeated, "I'm incredibly lucky") as he does 
about America's current political atmosphere. 

"It's easy to be super gloomy and pessimistic 
about the current administration and culture," he 
says. "But the world of Nowhere really is becoming 
so true. It's proving kind or prophetic. Noiuhere lives 
in a world where sexuality and race is not a big 
deal." Until we live in a world like this — in which 
tolerance is a given — Araki will continue to create 
them on film. In the end, his vision transforms him 
into a makeshift patriot. 

"Is that such a controversial idea, the idea of tol- 
erance?" he asks. "There are people out there that 
want to tell other people how to live. It's really so 
un-American. That's what America is founded 
upon — the freedom to be yourself." ~k 




Elisabeth Shue (above and below) plays Neil's mother in 
Mysterious Skin (Tartan Films) 




May 2005 I The Independent 35 



Keeping 

Ine D 



ay 



FINDING A BALANCE BETWEEN 

WHAT PAYS YOU AND WHAT REWARDS YOU 



JOD 



BY DAVID ROTH 

Like many creative people who can't afford to be creative 
about their material needs, the poet Wallace Stevens 
worked for insurance. But where many of today's cre- 
ative class take day jobs to get some health insurance, 
Stevens's approach was more literal. After getting his law degree 
and struggling to make a living as a reporter, Stevens took a job 
in the surety claims department at Hartford Accident and 
Indemnity Company. Seven years after that, he published his 
first book of poetry at the age of 44, which promptly received a 
negative review in The New York Times. Stevens didn't publish 
again for a decade. By the time he broke back into print and was 
recognized as one of the greatest American poets, Stevens had 
moved up Hartford's chain of command considerably He won 



36 The Independent I May 2005 



the Pulitzer Prize in 1955, the year of his death, but in the 
Times, the first line of Wallace Stevens's obituary summarized 
his life in the order into which material necessity had forced it: 
"Wallace Stevens, Vice President of the Hartford Accident and 
Indemnity Company and a Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry this 
year, died in St. Francis Hospital today." 

It's difficult to imagine Wallace Stevens — numbering the 
ways to look at a blackbird and pondering the majesty of "The 
Emperor of the Ice Cream" on his walk home from work — lov- 
ing his job. But Stevens never gave any indication that he regret- 
ted keeping his daytime gig. "It gives a man character as a poet," 
he said in a 1950 interview, "to have this daily contact with a 
job." Of course, Stevens was retired by then. 




CD 

CO 



to 

'= 

CD 

E 
< 



It's great if a day job adds character — or really anything 
beyond a modicum of financial security — but most artists who 
work 9 to 5 gigs aren't doing it for self-improvement. When we 
work for health insurance, or for the money to keep the utilities 
flowing and the rent payments current, we are making a choice 
that isn't really a choice at all. The necessity of a day job has long 
been a fact of the artistic life. A lucky few can afford to make 
their creative work their job; the rest of us — to paraphrase the 
noted godfather of soul economics, James Brown — have got to 
use what they've got to get what they want. The trick — and it's 
a trick that probably rolled through Wallace Stevens's mind on 
those rambles home — is creating a balance between what pays 
you and what rewards you. 

When it comes to independent film, that's complicated for 
several reasons. One of the more insinuating reasons is actually 
a romantic myth. Certain independent filmmakers are defined, 
to a great degree, as much by their personal back-stories as by 
the stories they tell. Everyone knows these guys. There's Kevin 
Smith, muttering wisecracks at his dead-end convenience store 
gig. And Quentin Tarantino, stoned cinema autodidact and 
video store clerk, weirding out his customers with the fervor of 
his praise for Monte Hellman. It's cute, this myth that 
independent filmmakers work menial jobs, immerse themselves 
in the art form they love, and then. . .well, somehow make Clerks 
and Reservoir Dogs. Unfortunately, to creative artists who want 
both to make ends meet and make art, this story is pretty much 
useless. 

Useless because the cost of living, which is high even outside 



cripplingly expensive urban centers like New York and San 
Francisco — let alone the cost of producing your own art — does- 
n't offer much room for picaresque day jobs. For the vast major- 
ity of artists — the majority, that is, that choose not to starve — 
the alarm rings every morning, and it's time to get on the bus. 

Labor Days 

For most artists, if you want to fund your work, you've got to 
work a job to secure your funds. And that means dealing with 
the most daunting day job challenge facing artists: When your 
marketable skills parallel those you use to make your art, each 
workday becomes a struggle to conserve your creative energy. 
The New York-based filmmaker Kate Bernstein, who currently 
daylights as a segment producer for VHl's "The Fabulous Life" 
(and moonlights as, among other things, a freelance writer with 
an article in this issue, see page 40), knows the risks of working 
in a field too similar to her chosen art form. "I'm happy with my 
work and, to me, my job is gratifying enough that the days don't 
suck," she says, "but because the job takes away the same type 
of brain power and energy that my film work does, I find that I 
work at a much slower pace." Bernstein wound up quitting an 
unrewarding previous job in order to finish her short Ladies 
Room, which she eventually took to Slamdance in 2004. 

Jason Rayles, a filmmaker, multimedia artist, and computer 
programmer, followed the same path when completing work on 
The Fair, a short he screened at Sundance earlier this year. "I 
tend to work in these manic spurts, both in my creative work 
and my paying work," he says. "So I saved some money from 



May 2005 I The Independent 37 




John D. Harkrider, director of Mitchellville, and Pi Ware, director of The Act at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival (Rebecca 
Sapp/Wirelmage.com) 



work and then quit and went into a creative spurt." Otherwise, 
both Bernstein and Rayles said, they might never have finished 
their films. "You can be the most motivated person in the 
world and it's still going to be difficult," Bernstein says. "You 
just don't have the time or the energy at the end of the day to 
do your work the way you want to." 

Artists who work day jobs in their creative field pointed out 
another problem: investing their craft in work where there is no 
emotional investment. "In TV, you're using the same skills you 
would in film," Bernstein says. "So you get to exercise those 
skills, and you get a lot more autonomy. But the product is very 
different, and that can be frustrating. " Rayles agrees. "When I 
was first getting into Flash, I thought these animations would 
be my artwork, in a way," he says. "But I noticed pretty quick- 
ly that it wasn't giving me any creative satisfaction." The skill- 
set may be the same, but the direction in which the energy is 
flowing makes all the difference. 

This is why many artists try to create bold lines between 
their day jobs and their artistic work. Sometimes this can be 
accomplished by divesting all emotional or intellectual stakes in 
your work. This doesn't mean doing a bad job, naturally; it just 
means knowing when to go home. "Because my computer pro- 
gramming work is about functionality and not about creativi- 
ty, it's a lot easier to differentiate," Rayles says. "I prefer to save 
up my creative capital for a realm in which I have more con- 



trol." Another route is seeking work that's a little bit further 
from your artistic interests. For instance, even though she's 
using the same skills, Bernstein knew that she had to put some 
distance between what she does and what she wants to do after 
an unsatisfying experience working in the film industry. "I tried 
to be a PA and I just did not like working in film," she says. "I 
felt so disconnected from the creative process doing that, and I 
didn't want to get disillusioned." And so sometimes, protecting 
your creative energy means taking a drastic step: finding a dif- 
ferent kind of job. 

Tour Buses and Power Suits 

Bernstein knows that if she worked another job she wouldn't 
have to deal with the energy drain that comes from spending 
her days among the rich and famous subjects of "The Fabulous 
Life." "I could bartend or something, but I've got an ego, and I 
want to do something that uses my brain," she says. "It's hard to 
do something totally unrelated to your interests for 12 hours a 
day, and I don't think I'd like doing it." 

There's certainly no shortage of waitresses who really want to 
direct or bartenders who are actually cinematographers — and 
we're not even going to go over the whole video store clerk thing 
again. Still, for all the benefits those jobs offer in terms of free 
time (and free food), the service industry is not the only place to 
find jobs that don't feel like art. And it certainly isn't the strangest. 



38 The Independent I May 2005 




Director Kate Bernstein discusses a scene from Ladies Room with actress Lydia Hearst (courtesy of 
Kate Bernstein) 



For that, we'll have to check in with the Canadian filmmak- 
er Tami Wilson and the American filmmaker John Harkrider. 
Wilson spends her springs and summers driving a tour bus 
through British Columbia, ferrying tourists to Whistler 
Mountain and other scenic sites north of the border. Harkrider 
works long hours as a partner in the Manhattan law firm of 
Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider. By day, he's an antitrust lawyer 
and author of papers like "Operationalizing the Hypothetical 
Monopolist Test." By night — often on nights after full days of 
work — he became the writer, director and star of the feature 
film Mitchellville, which played to great praise at this year's 
Sundance. It's hard to imagine two more disparate jobs, but 
both Wilson and Harkrider have found day jobs that make 
their artistic work both possible and meaningful. 

When a documentary she made in film school introduced 
Wilson to the world of female long-haul truckers, she realized 
that there was decent money in vehicles with more than two 
axles. And tour bus driving fit another of her criteria. The sea- 
sonal nature of the job, she writes in an email interview, means, 
"You can drive in the spring and summer and do your own thing 
in the fall and winter." For Wilson, that thing is shooting a doc- 
umentary called Flesh, which follows a diverse group of "women 
who make meat their business," ranging from a rancher to a 
Hooters waitress. Despite the subsidies and grants Wilson is 
using to finance her film, it's not something she could've made 
without her day job. "Filmmaking does not occur in a bubble," 
she writes. "And driving exposes you to a broad spectrum of social 
realities." Moreover, she adds, "Filmmaking and tour bus driving 
are not so different. A filmmaker tells stories with a given set of 
tools and a tour bus driver narrates to a changing visual land- 
scape... In the end, it is all about knowing your audience, 
whether they are in a bus or a theater." 

Harkrider, on the other hand, will never argue that corporate 
law and filmmaking are similar, which was why he was so ded- 



icated to making his debut feature Mitchellville, and is so intent 
on making another film. Harkrider graduated from college sad- 
dled with student loan debt and entered corporate law out of 
necessity. He describes his time practicing law as "utter and 
complete unhappiness...Wall Street represented everything I 
abhorred in life." But the experience also helped him to figure 
out what he really wanted to do. Three years after becoming a 
partner at his law firm, he says, "I decided that now that I had 
some financial stability, I needed to do what I said I wanted to 
do." He finished shooting Mitchellville — which he had written 
as a novel in 1994 and had been crafting into a screenplay in his 
after-work time since 2002. Much of the film was shot after 
Harkrider got done at the law firm, meaning that he sometimes 
logged as many as 22 hours of work per day. He sunk his life's 
savings into the film, and while he would never again use his 
own money on a film, he also "wants nothing more than to 
make [another] film." The bruising experience taught Harkrider 
a valuable lesson. In an email, he writes, "I think the day job 
made me appreciate compromise." 

And there, perhaps, is the most profound fringe benefit a job 
can offer. Day jobs leech energy and bifurcate mindsets. They 
can be maddening and require far more exposure to fluorescent 
lighting than anyone should have to bear. But they're necessary. 
"As an adult, this is just life," Kate Bernstein says. "I need to 
work, make money, and survive." By providing an opposition 
against which to exert creative energy, day jobs also inevitably 
force upon the artists who work them a more nuanced perspec- 
tive on the relationship between the twin halves of their lives. 

"The hope is always that someday, something you make will 
catch and make it possible for your work to become self-sustain- 
ing," says Jason Rayles. But until that happens, he says, "the good 
part about having a day job is that it enables you to do your work 
without making compromises just so you can eat lunch tomor- 
row." Wallace Stevens couldn't have put it any better. ~k 



May 2005 I The Independent 39 



t> Effi e 

brown 

SUPER PRODUCER BUSTS OUT ON HER OWN- 



OPRAH STYLE 



BY KATE BERNSTEIN 

"A hybrid of a hippie commune and capitalism," is how 
revered indie film producer Effie Brown describes the goal of 
her new production company, Duly Noted. "A safe place 
where filmmakers will be able to go and create, know they're 
not going to get screwed over, and at the end of the day be 
prosperous." 

In a time and economic climate when other independent 
production companies are closing their doors, and wings ol 
the major studios increasingly make "independent" films, 
starting a production company is a bold move. Yet, Duly 
Noted is kicking off its first year with eight films on its slate, 
half of which have already either secured financing or appear 
close to doing so as of this writing. Brown took a year off pro- 
ducing to find and develop the eight diverse projects Duly 
Noted will launch and is confident that she'll be able to add a 
new project every time one of the films completes production. 

Duly Noted has been a long time in the mind of Brown, 
who has been dreaming and talking about having a produc- 
tion company of her own for years. And the name Duly Noted 
is apropos of an even longer struggle the producer has had in 
the film industry. It's a phrase she co-opted from her days as a 
production assistant. "Duly noted is what I call an exclama- 
tion point on a statement — it could mean a whole bunch of 
things," she says. "I had bosses back in the day who told me 



to do stuff and I couldn't say what I really wanted to say and 
I really couldn't argue, so I would just say 'duly noted.' It does- 
n't mean that I agree or disagree." 

It's no surprise that Brown wants to keep the memory of 
sweeping up cigarette butts on set in the forefront of her com- 
pany's identity as she sets out to help aspiring filmmakers 
make their movies. Brown arrived in Los Angeles with 
absolutely no connections to the film world. "I was just a 
black girl from New Jersey, the only person I knew who ever 
went into film. My family back East were like, 'you're going to 
LA to go to film school? Are you high?'" 

But Brown attended the film program at Loyola 
Marymount University very clearheaded. And she took with 
her lessons she learned from her family. An army brat, Brown 
grew up with the conviction that failure was not an option — 
she would go full force and with all her heart. She also knew 
she couldn't afford to be a late bloomer. So once in 
Tinseltown, Brown called the Black Business Bureau and told 
the operator she wanted to work on a black film. "It was very 
ghetto fabulous," she remembers fondly. "The operator put 
me in touch with her cousin and her cousin, called someone." 
Brown scored her first job as an intern on Robert Townsend's 
The Five Heartbeats (1991), and her days of sweeping cigarette 
butts began. 



40 The Independent I May 2005 




Brown on the set of Un Dia en la Vida with director Marco Orsini (Joseph Pier) 



But what really gave Brown her big break was participating 
in IFP's first year of Project Involve, where women of color 
were introduced to people in the film industry through a men- 
toring partner. There, Brown met producer Laurie Parker 
{Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, and music super- 
visor on We Don't Live Here Anymore), whom she is still work- 
ing with years later. Despite a potentially bumpy start, Parker 
went on to open many doors for Brown. She says: "In my first 
interview with Laurie Parker, I was so arrogant, I said some- 
thing stupid like 'I'm going to be as big as Oprah.' Thank god 
she thought it was cute." 

While Brown hasn't exactly reached the billion-dollar mark 
quite yet, she did rise up in the ranks astonishingly quickly. By 
her early 20s, she was the director of development for Tim 
Burton's production company, living large in a corner office 
and having loads of creative control — while also producing 
short films and gaining production experience. When every- 
one was laid off from Burton's company, however, Brown 
learned an even more important film industry lesson. "When 
I lost my job, I found out all those people I thought were my 



friends, weren't," she said. "They didn't return my phone calls. 
I thought those were only stories you heard. So you learn to 
keep your true friends really close." 

Fortunately, Brown had more than a few of those, including 
Parker, and with her newfound experience, she started line 
producing. Her first film as a line producer was Spark (1998), 
directed by Garret Williams, and she quickly moved on to 
higher profile projects like Morgan J. Freeman's Desert Blue 
(1998), starring Christina Ricci and Kate Hudson, Speedway 
Junkie (1999), But I'm a Cheerleader (1999), and Things You 
Can Tell Just By Looking at Her (2000) starring Glenn Close 
and Cameron Diaz. 

"I had to be really aggressive and take the impossible jobs 
that no one else wanted," Brown says. "When I started line 
producing, I'm sure I was the last person on everyone's list. 
Thank God it turned out okay and I could move on. You work 
your way up and build a reputation." 

Her first turn as a producer came when director Jim McKay 
approached her to co-produce Cheryl Dunye's Stranger Inside 
(2001). Very simply, McKay brought Brown onto the project 



May 2005 I The Independent 41 




(directed by McKay) from never seeing celluloid light. 
"[Effie] came in and did a couple of things that were 
really important," George says. "She was able to go 
through the budget and find areas of concern that we 
hadn't dealt with. And she bought drinks for the entire 
crew and made everyone feel a part of the production." 
McKay concurs. "When I got on set with Effie on 
Everyday People, I had this shocking realization of how 
wonderful it was to simply direct, to trust and know 
that someone else was worrying about everything else," 
he says. 

Both George and McKay believe that the respect and 
awe the independent film community has for Brown 
ensures her company will succeed. "She is a force of 
nature," George says, "and in a position to be a real 
major factor in independent American filmmaking." 
McKay adds, "Basically, Effie gets the job done, and 
then some. She is responsible and honest when it comes 
to dealing with the financiers, and she is protective and 
supportive with her directors." 

Indeed, starting a production company was the obvi- 
ous next step for Brown's career. "As a producer you feel 
more like a hired gun," she says. "I wanted something 
that I was a part of from conception — you find a writer 
and a director and do the script work and develop it 
together." But Brown also had a much bolder reason for 
starting her own company. 

"I went into film because I was incredibly angry," she 
says. "I was incredibly angry that I never got to see 
someone like me, a person of color, on film. I didn't 
really see anyone who was different or any different 
because he knew she could do it. "Until that point, Effie had story lines. That pissed me off. So what I wanted to do was 
been line producing and I felt that she was ready to get bring those types of stories to the screen. I was able to find 
involved more on the creative level and have more responsi- people who had the same sort of good taste and had the same 
bility overall," McKay says. "And I've got many, many weak- idea that films can be used to protest, as well as to educate, as 
nesses [as a] producer, many of which were, conveniently, well as to entertain. And that's what I'm trying to do." 
strong points of hers. So it was a great match." And for Brown, it's important for Duly Noted to bring 

Through Stranger Inside, Brown developed a relationship together an eclectic group of films and filmmakers. Her plat- 
with HBO Films, and went on to produce a few more films form is diversity, and she doesn't want to get pigeonholed into 
with them, including Real Women Have Curves (2002). And doing any one sort of genre or issue. "I don't believe in stereo- 
then in 2003, she rejoined with mentor Laurie Parker to pro- typing myself," she says. "I won't only do films [about] people 
duce Jane Campion's high profile In the Cut, starring Meg of color, and I won't only work with people of color or 
Ryan. women. That makes no sense to me. I do good movies. I do 

It's an impressive roster for a 33-year-old black woman with stories that are compelling, things that engage me. Because I'm 
few role models to call her own. What makes her so success- black and a woman, I'm sure there is subject matter I can real- 
ful? According to Everyday People's executive producer, Nelson ly identify with and that's one thing, but I refuse to put myself 
George, Brown has unique characteristics that make her an in the hole." 

exceptional producer. "Number one, she has a fantastic per- And certainly, the eight films that Duly Noted has on its 

sonality. She is able to draw people in and instill a sense of debut slate reflect exactly that kind of diversity. They are: 
confidence in the production," George says. "Number two, Polish Bar, by Ben Berkowitz and Ben Redgrave, about a 
she really knows the nuts and bolts of filmmaking fantastical- young middle-class Jew who leaves his family jewelry business 
ly well. So she has great spirit and energy, and she's also total- to become a hip-hop DJ at a local Polish gangsta-run strip 
ly on top of the fundamentals of filmmaking — it's an amazing club; Bobby Zero, by Markus and Mason Canter, about broke 
combination." and jobless 30-year-old artists and musicians dealing with love 

It was this winning combination that saved Everyday People and life; American Way, by Marco Orsini, about a Puerto 



Brown on the set of Everyday People (courtesy of Wellington Love) 



42 The Independent I May 2005 



Rican family that arrives in the American South determined to 
assimilate and succeed; My Place in the Horror, a horror genre 
flick by Robert O'hara set in a typical remote location but 
with an atypical all-black cast; Exactly Like You, by Silas 
Howard, about a mans pursuit of women, music, and fame all 
while hiding he was actually born a woman; Powder Blue, 
about a group of people looking for redemption, connection, 
and faith in Los Angeles; Rocket Science, by Jeff Blitz (who was 
nominated for an Oscar for Spellbound), about a high school 
boy who goes into the competitive world of debate despite his 
stutter; and Strangers in the Snow, by Zackary Dean, a violent 
and suspenseful thriller about a family that must run for their 
lives during a Thanksgiving celebration. 

Of course, Browns identity as a woman of color feeds her 
compassion for all sorts of subject matter that other producers 
might not have. "Being who I am makes me a little more sen- 
sitive," she says. And the same identity also gets her noticed 
more than some other producers might be. "Being a black 
woman with red hair also makes me stand out a little bit," she 
says with a laugh. 

But it is purely her film prowess that got her a first-look 
deal, support from HBO Films, and a solid starting ground to 
get her films made. Yet Brown is fiercely independent, making 
sure that no one owns any part of her company, ensuring she 
has the option to search for funds anywhere. "I want to be able 
to go everywhere," she says. "There's a lot of places to go and 
get money. I'm not opposed to going to a studio arm to get 
money. I'm all for that. I'm all for the billionaire. If he or she 
wants to invest in film, excellent. I'll do a co-production. I 
want to be able to go anywhere that's the best place to serve 
my film. Be fluid and go wherever I need to." 

What is equally important to Brown, however, is that she 
also hasn't forgotten her roots and makes giving back a top 
priority. Over a decade after her own experience with the 
organization, she's back to working with IFP's Project Involve. 
Only this time, she's a mentor. "It's a cutthroat industry, but 
there's room for everybody and I would love to foster that," 
she says. "That's how I made it. If it weren't for that mentor- 
ship there would be no one looking out for me," That chari- 
table spark sounds a little like Oprah. 

And as for that big-as-Oprah prediction? "You're not going 
to be buying your Jaguar or your Beamer in the independent 
film business, but you might be able to buy a nice pair of 
shoes," Brown says. "And I don't want to do anything else. I'm 
not complaining. I can go out to eat. I can take my friends out 
to dinner. I'm good. I've always been about the base needs. 
Can you pay your rent? Yeah. Can you go see a movie? Good. 
Can you buy a drink? Great. That's all you really need. Cause 
I do my own hair so it's totally fine. I dye my hair, let it nap 
up, and call it a day." ~k 




Brown and George Lavoo on the set of Real Women Have 

Curves (Nicola Goode/HBO) 




A Duly Noted inc project slated for next year 
(lllusiontank.com) 




One of Duly Noted Inc's new projects 
(Silas Howard/Rebbeca Rosenthal) 



May 2005 I The Independent 43 



LEGAL 




Who owns the copyright in a 
screenplay when the author 
works with a screenwriter to 
help the author rewrite and develop the 
storyline? Can a singer/songwriter fea- 
tured in a music video or documentary 
directed, produced, and edited by the 
filmmaker claim co-ownership in the 
copyright to the video? How about the 
consultant who's hired to help an actor 
with his role, but then also makes addi- 
tional contributions during principal 
photography and post-production? These 
collaboration scenarios involve occasion- 
ally tricky issues regarding copyright law 
and joint authorship. 

Most screenwriters or filmmakers have 
a basic understanding of what copyright 
is: protection of an author's original mate- 
rial. This protection is automatic from the 
moment the material is created, and gives 
the author/creator (or other person who 
has acquired ownership) certain exclusive 
rights to exploit the material (make copies, 
distribute, publicly perform, and adapt). 
As the copyright owner, you also have the 
right to stop others from exercising those 
rights. Generally speaking, when someone 
other than the owner uses the material 
without permission (or in other words, 
violates any one of your exclusive rights), 
copyright infringement occurs — unless 
that someone is a joint author (sometimes 
referred to as a co-author) of the material. 
For copyright purposes, joint author- 
ship is the process by which two or more 
individuals combine their efforts to cre- 
ate a joint work. The co-authors are also 




Joint 
Copyrignt 
Scenarios 

The logistics of 
co-author vsjP 
co-collaborat 

By Fernando Ramir. 




co-owners of the copyright in the materi- 
al created, which just as one might 
assume, provides them with equal owner- 
ship of the material. In other words, 
unless there is an agreement stipulating 
otherwise, each joint author has the right 
to use, license, or otherwise exploit the 
material as he or she wishes without the 
other joint owner's consent, and with 
only the obligation to the share profits, if 
any, with the other joint owner. 

Given the high stakes of the multi-bil- 
lion dollar a year film and television 
industry, where any given script or film 
can carry with it significant financial and 
career success, establishing sole (as 
opposed to co-) ownership of a script or 
film from the start is, to say the least, 
rather important. This is especially true 
because collaborating on the scriptwrit- 
ing or film production process does not 
always amount to co-authorship and co- 
ownership for copyright purposes. To 
bring to life these issues, the following are 
some illustrations of joint authorship dis- 
putes. In none of these scenarios did any 
of the parties have a written agreement 
specifying their rights or credit. 

Scenario One 

Lynn, the author of an original screen- 
play, asks Tom, a screenwriter, to help her 
rewrite and develop the storyline of her 
screenplay. After a few rewrites, a film 
based entirely on the final draft is pro- 
duced and distributed with box office 
success. Tom then decides to sue Lynn, 
claiming that his collaborative contribu- 



tions (developing the plot and theme, 
creating most of character elements, and 
writing a significant portion of the dia- 
logue) make him a co-author of the 
screenplay. Is Tom a co-author? If in this 
instance Lynn kept sole decision-making 
authority as to what went into the 
screenplay (including final approval over 
all changes), if she retained the exclusive 
right to enter into agreements regarding 
use of the screenplay without Tom's con- 
sent, and if billing and credit on all mate- 
rials indicated "Original Screenplay, by 
Lynn," then chances are Tom, although 
collaborating with Lynn, is not a co- 
author of the screenplay. 

Scenario Two 

Jonathan, a filmmaker, produces a 
music video/documentary called 
"Marked" for singer/songwriter Billy. 
Billy later signs to a new label that releas- 
es a music video called "Vieuphoria" con- 
taining short clips taken from the 
"Marked" video produced by Jonathan. 
Jonathan sues Billy for copyright 
infringement, claiming that because he 
produced the video and kept possession 
of the master, that he was the sole copy- 
right owner. Billy argues that he had 
every right to use the clips because as the 
featured artist, he was a joint author of 
the video. Who owns the copyright? Both 
Jonathan and Billy are co-owners and 
joint authors of the "Marked" video 
because in this case, each person's collab- 
orative contributions are what made the 
music video/documentary. 

Scenario Three 

Mr. Washington, an actor, engages Mr. 
Jeffries, a historian/documentary film- 
maker, to help him prepare for his star- 
ring role as a renowned historical figure 
in a movie. In addition to helping the 
actor authenticate his role, Mr. Jeffries 
makes various contributions to the mak- 
ing of the movie, including reviewing 
and revising the shooting script, occa- 
sionally directing Mr. Washington and 
other actors while on the set, and editing 
parts of the movie. If Mr. Jeffries is cred- 
ited as a "Technical History Consultant," 
can he successfully claim that based on 
his extensive contributions he is entitled 



44 The Independent I May 2005 



to co-ownership of the copyright in the 
movie? Probably not, unless Mr. Jeffries 
could establish that he had artistic control 
over the production process in the same 
capacity as a producer or director. 

Anyone engaged in collaboration 
arrangements should clearly spell out 
duties, rights, and credit, so as to avoid or 
mitigate authorship or ownership dis- 
putes. The following are some pointers 
that screenwriters and filmmakers should 
bear in mind when embarking on a col- 
laborative screenwriting or video/film- 
making process: 

Writer or other agreements (co-produc- 
er, director) should stipulate that any and 
all changes incorporated into the material 
(script/film) are the property of the indi- 
vidual or company doing the hiring. 

All billing and credit should clearly 
indicate authorship ("Screenplay by John 
Doe" or "Film by John Doe"). 

Filmmakers, especially music video 
producers or documentary filmmakers 
with subjects involving singers, should 
never assume that they will be the sole 
author for copyright purposes of the film 
or video created. 

Mere possession or ownership of reels 
or master videotapes does not translate 
into copyright ownership. 

Any screenwriter or producer looking 
to retain full copyright ownership should 
clearly stipulate in writing that they have 
sole decision-making authority (selling, 
licensing, and optioning), and full artistic 
control (final approval over all script 
changes or scenes in the final print). 

Never assume collaboration will always 
mean joint authorship. 

Spelling out such terms is not a guar- 
antee that a screenwriter or filmmaker 
won't encounter some uninvited owner- 
ship claims. In fact, the three scenarios 
provided are from actual joint authorship 
disputes that went to litigation. At the 
very least, having clear agreements can 
help establish whether co-ownership was 
what the parties actually had in mind 
when they began collaborating and could 
even play a role in deterring wrongful or 
misguided claims of ownership, including 
costly litigation. ~k 



TARTAN VIDEO PRESENTS 



(ik-streem) adj. 1. Extending far 

beyond the norm; 2. Of the greatest 

severity, drastic; 3. The greatest 

or utmost degree or point. 




-awns****"** 



Asia Extreme 

(A-zha ik-streem) 

n. The most daring 

and* cutting-edge horror, thriller and 

action films from Japan, Korea, Hong 

Kong and around the world. 



www.tartanvideousa.com 

© 2005 Tartan Video. All rights reserved. 




ASIA 

EXTREME 



May 2005 I The Independent 45 



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DOMESTIC 

ACTION/CUT SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 29- 

Sept. 1, CA. Deadline: March 15; May 15. 
Cats: short, any style or genre. Awards: 
$35,000 in cash & services. Preview on DVD 
or VHS. Entry Fee: $40-$85. Contact: 
Action/Cut Filmmaking Seminars; filmmak 
mg@actioncut.com; www.actioncut.com. 

ALL ROADS FILM FESTIVAL, Sept. -Nov., 
CA/DC. Deadline: May 7. A multimedia test & 
grants program created to provide a platform 
for indigenous & under-represented minority- 
culture storytellers. Cats: feature, doc, short, 
animation, music video. Awards: Audience 
Awards in each category. Formats: 70mm, 
35mm, 16mm, Beta, DigiBeta, Mini-DV. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: All Roads Film Project; (202) 857- 
7692; allroads@ngs.org; www.nat'lgeograph 
ic.com/allroads. 

BIG BEAR LAKE INTLFILM FESTIVAL, Sept 16- 
18, CA. Deadline: March 1; April 8 (final 
scripts); June 20 (final). This year's cultural 
event will showcase German cinema. The 
fest is located in Big Bear Lake, California, 
nestled in the San Bernardino Nat'l Forest, 
just two hours outside of Los Angeles. Cats: 
feature, student, short, script, doc, family. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $35-$45. 
Contact: Monika Skerbelis, Festival & 
Programming Director; (909) 866-3433; fax: 
same; bigbearfilmfest@aol.com; www.big 
bearlakefilmfestival.com. 

BOSTON JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 2-13, 
MA. Deadline: May 1; May 20 (final). Fest is a 
non competitive event. Fest screens films & 
videos that highlight the Jewish experience; 



deal w/ themes of Jewish culture 
/heritage/history; or are of particular interest to 
the Jewish community. Projects can be of any 
length. Films must not have previously 
screened in Massachusetts. Founded: 1989. 
Cats: feature, experimental, animation, doc. 
Awards: Audience choice awards. Formats: 
Beta SP, 35mm, 16mm, DVD. Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: $15; $25 (final)- no fees for 
int'l submissions. Contact: Festival; (617) 244- 
9899; fax: 244-9894; programmmg@bjff.org; 
www.b|ff.org. 

BRONX INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL, June 5- 
9, NY. Deadline: May 2; May 16 (final). 
Presented by Bronx Stage & Film Company, 
fest seeks not commercially exhibited prior to 
fest dates. Cats: feature, doc, short, anima- 
tion, experimental. Formats: DV Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $10-$20. Contact: 
film@bronxstage.com; www.bronxstage.com. 

CHICAGO INT'L CHILDREN'S FILM FESTIVAL 

Oct. 27-Nov. 6, IL. Deadline: May 1; May 31 
(final). The CICFF is the largest competitive 
fest for films & videos for children in North 
America, & programs over 200 films & videos 
from 43 countries targeted primarily for chil- 
dren ages 3-14. Entries must have copyright 
date of previous two years or later. Fest pres- 
ents films in contexts which encourage dia- 
logue between filmmakers, children, parents 
& educators. Goal is the sustenance & nurture 
of positive images for children. Fest is the 
only children's film fest selected to be an 
Academy Award® Qualifying Festival. 
Founded: 1984. Cats: children, adult Produced 
Feature, short, TV, animation, child-produced 
work (ages 3-13), youth media, family, fea- 
ture, doc. Awards: Best of Fest Prize; 
Montgomery Jury Prize, Adult & child: Liv 



Ullmann Peace Prize & Rights of the Child 
Prize ($2,500-$500), in addition to 1st, 2nd & 
Certificates in all submission cats from Adult 
& Children's Juries. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
Beta SP. Preview on VHS (PAL or NTSC) or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $40/$50 (final) Short (Less 
than 60 mins.); $80/$90 (final) Feature(60 
mins. or more); no fee for child-produced films 
(age 3-13). Contact: CICFF; (773) 281-9075; fax: 
same; kidsfest@facets.org; www.cicff.org. 

CHICKS W/ FLICKS FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL 

Aug., NY. Deadline: June 3. Fest is a one-day 
film event in NYC that showcases the works 
of independent women filmmakers. The goal 
of the fest is to encourage, support & foster 
indie filmmaking as well as generate an audi- 
ence & supportive following for women film- 
makers. Films must be 20 mm. or less. 
Founded: 1999. Cats: any style or genre, 
short, doc, animation, experimental. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, 1/2". Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: $10. Contact: Yhane Smith; (212) 926- 
8894; yhane@chicksw/flicks.org; www.chick 
sw/flicks.org. 

CONEY ISLAND FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 30 Oct 
2, NY. Deadline: May 6; July 1 (final). Fest's 
mission is to raise funds for the non-profit arts 
organization Coney Island USA & to present a 
fun & unique program of films at the leg- 
endary Sideshows by the Seashore & Coney 
Island Museum venues. Cats: feature, doc, 
short, animation, experimental, music video. 
Formats: DV, 16mm, Super 8, 35mm. Preview 
on VHS, DVD or Mini-DV. Entry Fee: $20; $25 
(final). Contact: Festival; info@coneyisland 
filmfestival.com; www.coneyislandfilmfesti 
val.com. 

DC ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL, 



46 The Independent I May 2005 



Oct. 6-15, DC. Deadline: April 1; May 1 (final). 
The test's mission is to "bring attention to the 
creative output from APA communities & 
encourage the artistic development of APA 
films in the greater Washington DC metropol- 
itan region." The screenings are held at the 
Smithsonian Institution's Freer Gallery of Art's 
Meyer Auditorium, the Hirshhorn Museum & 
Sculpture, the Canadian Embassy, & other 
venues. Founded: 2000. Cats: feature, doc, 
short, experimental, animation. Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, Betacam. Preview on VHS 
(NTSC) or DVD. Entry Fee: $10 (shorts & fea- 
tures); $20 (final). Contact: Festival; 
gene@apafilm.org; www.apafilm.org. 

D0CSIDE FILM FESTIVAL, Sept., TX. Deadline 
June 15. Fest is organized by the Doc Film 
Project, & is the only documentary film fest in 
Texas. Fest's objective is to showcase the 
best documentaries from Texas, the US, & 
the world, w/ the purpose to form alliances w/ 
other film organizations & media groups. Grad 
film students encouraged to send documen- 
taries. Founded: 1999. Cats: short Doc, fea- 
ture Doc, experimental Doc, . Formats: S- 
VHS, Beta SP, DigiBeta, DVD. Preview on 
DVD. Entry Fee: $35. Contact: Doc Film 
Project, attn: Lucila Betz; (573) 356-0634; doc- 
filmproject@yahoo.com; www.docfilmpro 
ject.homestead.com. 

ECHO PARK HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL, 

Oct. 21-23, CA. Deadline: May 1. Annual fest 
is seeking films dealing w/ human rights or 
mt'l relations issues. Cats: feature, doc, short, 
any style or genre. Awards: honorarium 
awarded. Formats: DV, 16mm, Mmi-DV, 1/2", 
DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee 
None. Contact: Echo Park Film Center 
(213)484-8846; paolofilm@hotmail.com 
www.echoparkfilmcenter.org. 

EUREKA INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 22-30, NY 
Deadline: May 20; June 17. Festival showcas- 
es political & socially conscious films by film- 
makers from all over the world, presenting 
views that span the political spectrum. Fest 
celebrates the "freedom of expression" & will 
feature documentaries, fictional works, ani- 
mations & political humor. Founded: 2005. 
Cats: feature, doc, animation, short. Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, Beta SP. Preview en VHS or 



DVD. Entry Fee: $25 shorts; $30 features. 
Contact: Festival; (212) 714-4617; 
mfo@eurekaiff.ocm; www.eurekaiff.ocm. 

FIRSTGLANCE: HOLLYWOOD FILM FESTIVAL, 

Dec, CA. Deadline: June 15; July 1 (final). 
Fest encourages both student & professional 
film & videomakers w/ all budgets. Festival's 
mission is to exhibit all genres of work (film, 
video & digital productions) from mainstream 
to controversial in a competitive casual atmos- 
phere. Founded: 1999. Cats: feature, doc, stu- 
dent, short. Awards: Prize packages totaling 
over $25,000. Formats: DVD, DV, 8mm, super 
8, DigiBeta, Beta SR Beta, S-VHS, 1/2", 3/4", 
35mm, 16mm. Preview on VHS (NTSC) & 
DVD. Entry Fee: $30-$50. Contact: William 
Ostroff; (818) 464-3544; (215) 552-8566; wro 
pro1@msn.com; www.firstglancefilms.com. 

GOD ON FILM FESTIVAL, July 1 1 , NY Deadline 
April 1; May 15. Fest seeks short films that 
explore spiritual themes such as redemption, 
faith, struggle, & the supernatural. Cash 
prizes in 3 cats (up to 10 mm., up to 15 mm., 
up to 25 min.) & one Best of Show winner. 
Founded: 2004. Cats: short. Formats: Mini- 
DV, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. Contact: 
Festival; (212) 730-8300 x202; fax: (800) 863- 
1239; info@godonfilm.com; www.godon 
film.com. 

GREAT PLAINS FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 114, NE 

Deadline: June . Fest is a biennial regional 
venue for indie film & video artists working in 
the US & Canada. Open to film & videomak- 
ers either from the Great Plains region, or 
those whose film/video realates in content or 
in narrative to the Great Plains. Fest provides 
a forum of the diversity of life on the Great 
Plains through panel discussions, special 
appearances & tributes. Cats: feature, doc, 
short, animation, experimental, youth media. 
Awards: 10 cash prizes ranging from $500- 
$3,000. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, S-VHS, U- 
matic, DVD, DigiBeta, 1/2". Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $20 shorts; ; $30 features. Contact: 
Mary Riepma Ross Film Theater; (402) 472- 
9100; fax: 472-2576; dladely1@unl.edu; 
www.theross.org. 

HEARTLAND FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 13-21, IN 

Deadline: June 1. Fest seeks features & 




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What You'll Find: 

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shorts that "explore the human journey by 
artistically expressing hope & respect for the 
positive values of life." Founded: 1991. Cats: 
doc, short, feature, animation, experimental, 
student, family, children, any style or genre. 
Awards: Prizes totaling $100,000; $50,000 
grand prize for dramatic feature. Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, Beta, Beta SP, DigiBeta. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $20 
(under 50 mm.); $55 (50 mm. & up); $60 (final 
features); $25 (final shorts). Contact: Jeffrey 
L. Sparks; (317) 464-9405; fax: 464-9409; 
info@heartlandfilmfestival.org; www. heart 
landfilmfestival.org. 

HIP-HOP ODYSSEY INT'L FILM FESTIVAL (H20), 

Nov. 13-19, NY. Deadline: June 1; July 15 
(final). Fest showcases "the best of American 
& Int'l independent Hip-Hop cinema." The 
fest's mission is to create "cultural sustain- 
ability & industry longevity by supporting the 
use of Hip-Hop culture as a tool for social 
awareness & youth empowerment". Cats: 
youth media, feature, doc, short, animation, 
experimental, PSA, music video. Entry Fee: 
$15-$30. Contact: Stacey L'Air Lee, 
Programming Director; (212) 500-5970; fax: 
300-4895; stacey@hiphopassociation.org; 
www.h2oiff.org. 

HOT SPRINGS DOC FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 21-30, 
AR. Deadline: April 8; May 20 (final). Annual 
fest accepting nonfiction film submissions for 
one of the country's premier nonfiction film 
celebrations. Noncompetitive fest honors 
films & filmmakers each yr. in beautiful Hot 
Springs Nat'l Park, Arkansas. More than 85 
films are screened, incl. the current year's 
Academy Award nominees in nonfiction cats. 
Special guest scholars, filmmakers & celebri- 
ties participate in forums & lectures. 
Founded: 1992. Cats: doc. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, 1/2", DVD, Beta. Preview on VHS or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $25-$55. Contact: Darla 
Dixon, HSDFI; (501) 321-4747; fax: (501) 321- 
0211; ddixon@sdfi.org; www.hsdfi.org. 

IFP MARKET, Sept. 18-23, NY. Deadline: May 
2: narrative & No Borders scripts, works-m- 
progress (doc & narrative), shorts, docs; May 
16 (final): shorts, docs, works-in-progress; fea- 
tures. Annual event is the longest-running 
U.S. market devoted to new, emerging film 



talent. The market presents new film & TV 
works in development directly to the industry. 
Hundreds of financiers, distributors, buyers, 
development execs, fest programmers, & 
agents from the U.S. & abroad attend the IFP 
Market. Market filmmakers receive access to 
these industry executives via targeted net- 
working meetings, pitch sessions, screen- 
ings, & more. Cats: feature, doc, work-in- 
progress, short, script. Awards: More than 
$1 50,000 in cash & prizes awarded to emerg- 
ing artists, incl. two $10,000 Gordon Parks 
Awards for Emerging African-American film- 
makers. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta, 
DigiBeta, . Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: $40-$50 application fee; Registration 
fees (paid on acceptance only): $200 - $450. 
Contact: Pooja Kohli; (212) 465-8200; fax: 465- 
8525; marketreg@ifp.org; www.ifp.org . 

LESBIAN LOOKS, Sept./Oct., AZ. Deadline: 
June 15. Fest seeks work of all lengths. Fee 
paid for all works screened. Incl. synopsis, 
brief artist bio & electronic still(s) w/ entry. 
Founded: 1993. Cats: short, doc, feature, 
experimental, any style or genre. Formats: 
1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS (NTSC only). 
Entry Fee: $10. Contact: Beverly Seckinger; 
(520) 621-1239; fax: 621-9662; bsecking 
@u. anzona.edu; lgbcom.web.anzona.edu/lob 
bydoor.html. 

LONG ISLAND FILM FESTIVAL, June 21-23, NY 
Deadline: April 30; May 31 (final). Annual com- 
petitive fest screens over 50 features & 
shorts submitted from around the world. 
Cats: feature, short, doc, student, experimen- 
tal, animation. Awards: 1st prizes presented in 
all cats (film & video), w/ cash awards TBA. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 3/4", 1/2", DVD. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $25 (student; to 
1 5 mm.); $40 (1 5 to 30 mm.); $60 (30-60 mm.); 
$75 (over 60 min.). Contact: Chris Cooke; 
(631) 669-2717; fax: 853-4888; suffolkfilm 
©yahoo.com; www.lifilm.org. 

LOS ANGELES INT'L SHORT FILM FESTIVAL (LA 
SHORTS FEST), Sept. 7-13, CA. Deadline: May 
17; June 17 (final). Fest dubs itself "the 
largest short film fest in the world." Seeks 
Shorts, Features & Screenplays shorts (under 
40 min.) & long shorts (40-60 mm.), as well as 
feature-length works by directors who have 



48 The Independent I May 2005 



previously completed a short film in their 
career. Works must have been completed 
after Jan. 1 of previous year. Founded: 1997. 
Cats: Short, Animation, Doc, Exp., any style or 
genre, feature. Awards: Awards in "best of" 
cats. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SR 
DigiBeta. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
$45-$70. Robert Arentz, Founder & Festival 
Director ; (323) 851-9100; info@lashorts 
fest.com; www.lashortsfest.com. 

MADCAT WOMEN'S INT L FILM FESTIVAL, 

Sept., CA. Deadline: March 25; May 13 (final). 
MadCat showcases innovative & challenging 
works from around the globe. Fest features 
experimental, avant garde & independent 
works by women of all lengths & genres. 
Works can be produced ANY year. It is the 
fest's goal to expand the notion of women's 
cinema beyond the limitations of films about 
traditional women's issues. All topics/subjects 
will be considered. Founded: 1996. Cats: any 
style or genre. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, super 
8, Beta SR 1/2", Mmi-DV. Preview on VHS or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $10-$30 (sliding scale, pay 
what you can afford). Contact: Festival; (415) 
436-9523; fax: 934-0642; info@madcatfilmfes 
tival.org; www.madcatfilmfestival.org. 

MAINE STUDENT FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, July 
23, ME. Deadline: June 1. The Festival spon- 
sored by MAMA (Maine Alliance of Media 
Arts), is open to Maine residents 19 years of 
age & younger. Entries are accepted in all film 
& video formats & are divided into 3 cats: Pre- 
Teen Division (Grades K-5), Junior Division 
(Grades 6-8) & Senior Division (Grades 9-12). 
Founded: 1978. Cats: Any style or genre, 
Student. Awards: Senior Division Grand Prize 
Award is a $2,000 Scholarship to the Young 
Filmmakers Program, Int'l Film & Television 
Workshop in association w/ Rockport College 
Rockport, Maine. Formats: DVD, Hi8, 1/2", 
Mini-DV. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Festival; (207) 773-1130; 
mfo@msfvf.com; www.msfvf.com. 

MALIBU INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 16-23, 
CA. Deadline: Jan. 1; June 1 (final). The 
Malibu Film Foundation, a California non-prof- 
it organization was founded to create, devel- 
op, & produce the Malibu Int'l Film Festival. 
The fest screens over forty independent fea- 



ture, short & documentary films from around 
the world. Founded: 1999. Cats: feature, 
short, doc, animation, script. Awards: Grand 
Prize; Directing Award; Audience Award (pop- 
ular ballot); Cinematography Award; 
Screenwriter Award; Emerging Director 
Award. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, Beta, Beta 
SR DigiBeta. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: $20 (early), $30 (Mar. 1), $40 (May 1), 
$50 (final). Contact: Malibu Film Festival; 
(310) 452-1180; mfo@malibufilmfestival.org; 
www.malibufilmfestival.com. 

OJAI FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 20 23, CA 

Deadline: June 1; July 1 (final). Theme: 
"Enriching the Human Spirit Through Film." 
Films & videos on all subjects in any genre are 
welcomed. Cats: feature, doc, short, anima- 
tion, student, any style or genre. Awards: Best 
narrative feature & short; Doc feature & short; 
Animated film; Student film; Festival theme 
award. Formats: 35mm, Beta SR Mini-DV, DV 
Cam. Preview on VHS (NTSC), DVD. Entry 
Fee: $25-$45. Contact: Steve Grumette, 
Artistic Director; (805) 649-4000; filmfest 
ival@ojai.net; www.ojaifilmfestival.org. 

PALM BEACH JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL, Dec 1- 

11, FL. Deadline: March 1 (early), Aug 
20(final). This fest aims to "speak to the 
world-wide Jewish experience." Cats: 
"Jewish films", any style or genre. Preview 
on VHS. Contact: Jewish Arts Foundation; 
pbjff@kaplanjcc.org; palmbeachjewishfilm.org. 

REEL VENUS FILM FESTIVAL, July 20 22, NY 
Deadline: April 15; May 13 (final). A showcase 
of FilmA/ideo Shorts, 30 min. & under, all gen- 
res, directed & written by emerging & estab- 
lished women filmmakers from the United 
States & Abroad. Founded: 2003. Cats: any 
style or genre, short. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
BetcTSR DigiBeta, 1/2", DVD. Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $15; $20 (final). 
Contact: Melissa Fowler, Festival Director; 
info@reelvenus.com; www.reelvenus.com. 

RESFEST DIGITAL FILM FESTIVAL, Sept - Dec , 
NY, CA, DC, IL, MA, OR. Deadline: April 15; 
May 13 (final). Annual nat'l/int'l touring fest 
seeks short films/videos exploring the dynam- 
ic interplay of film, art, music & design. The 
Fest showcases the best of the year's shorts, 




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features, music videos, & animation along w/ 
screenings, live music events, parties, panel 
discussions, & tech demos. The underlying 
guideline for submissions is Innovation. The 
previous years the fest toured 30 plus cities 
int'lly. Cats: Doc, Experimental, Feature, 
Animation, music video, short. Formats: DV, 
Beta SP, 35mm, DigiBeta (preferred), Mini DV 
(NTSC). Preview on VHS , DVD, Beta SP 
(NTSC), Mini DV (NTSC). Entry Fee: $20: $25 
(final). Contact: Festival: filmmaker @res 
fest.com; www.resfest.com. 

RHODE ISLAND INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 9- 

14, Rl. Deadline: May 15, June 1 (final). Fest 
takes place in historic Providence, Rl & has 
become a showcase for mt'l independent 
filmmakers & their work. Fest is a qualifying 
fest in the Short Film category w/ the 
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. 
Founded: 1997. Cats: feature, doc, short, ani- 
mation, experimental, student, youth media, 
family, children. Awards: All films will be eligi- 
ble for Audience Choice Awards. Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, Beta SP, S-VHS, 1/2", DV, 
DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
$40. Contact: George T. Marshall; (401) 861- 
4445; fax: 847-7590; flicksart@aol.com; 
www.nfilmfest.org. 

SAN DIEGO ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 29- 
Oct. 2, CA. Deadline: April 1; May 14 (final). 
Annual competitive fest seeks short-to fea- 
ture-length narratives, docs, experimental, 
animation & mixed-genre works made by or 
about Asian & Pacific Americans. Awards: 
Best Feature, Best Short, Best Doc, Best 
Experimental, Best Animation, Best Music 
Video, Jury award. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP. 
Preview on VHS (NTSC only). Entry Fee: $25; 
$35 (final). Contact: SDAFF; (858) 699-2717; 
entnes@sdaff.org; www.sdaff.org. 

SAN DIEGO FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 21-25, CA 
Deadline: June 1; July 1 (final). Festival hosts 
interactive panels & workshops, a nat'l 
screenwriting contest, filmmaker receptions 
& several star-studded, 'not to be missed' par- 
ties. Cats: feature, doc, short, any style or 
genre. Awards: Best feature, best short, best 
documentary, best actor & actress, best up & 
coming actor & actress, best screenplay, best 
cinematography, Achievement in Acting 



Award. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, 
1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS (NTSC), DVD. 
Entry Fee: $35 (features/docs); $25 (shorts); 
$45 (features final); $35 (shorts final). Contact: 
San Diego Film Foundation; (619) 582-2368; 
fax: 286-8324; info@sdff.org; www.sdff.org. 

SEATTLE LESBIAN & GAY FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 

1 4-23, WA. Deadline: June 1 ; July a (final). The 
Pacific Northwest's premier queer film fest, 
committed to screening the best in lesbian, 
gay, bisexual & transgender film/video. 
Produced by Three Dollar Bill Cinema, whose 
mission is to provide community access to 
queer cinema & a venue for queer filmmakers 
to show their work. Founded: 1995. Cats: 
Feature, Short, Experimental, doc, animation. 
Awards: Jury selects best feature, documen- 
tary, short, new director & female director 
($500-$1,000). Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 1/2", 
Beta SP. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
$10; $15 (final). Contact: Jason Plourde; 
(206) 323-4274; fax: 323-4275; program 
ming@seattlequeerfilm.com; www.seattle 
queerfilm.com. 

TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 2 5, CO 
Deadline: May 1, June 15 (final). Annual fest, 
held in a Colorado mountain town, is a Labor 
Day weekend celebration commemorating 
the art of filmmaking: honoring the great mas- 
ters of cinema, discovering the rare & 
unknown, bringing new works by the world's 
greatest directors & the latest in independent 
film. Cats: feature, short, student, any style or 
genre, doc, experimental. Awards: None. 
Formats: 16mm, 35mm, 3/4", 1/2", S-VHS, 
Beta, Beta SP, DigiBeta, Hi8, DV, DVD. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $35 (19 mm. or 
less); $55 (20-39 mm); $75 (40-59 mm); $95 
(60 min. & over); $25 (student films, any 
length). Contact: Bill Pence /Tom Luddy; (603) 
433-9202; fax: 433-9206; mail@telluridefilm 
festival.org; www.tellundefilmfestival.org. 

TELLURIDE INDIEFEST, Aug 31 -Sept. 4, CO 
Deadline: May 31 . Fest dubs itself as "an mt'l 
event showcasing the world's best indie films 
& screenplays, high in the mountains." Cats: 
feature, doc, any style or genre, short, script. 
Formats: Beta SP, 1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS 
or DVD. Entry Fee: $40-$55. Contact: Michael 
Carr; (970) 708-1529; fax: 292-4178; 



50 The Independent I May 2005 



festival@tellurideindiefest.com; 
lurideindiefest.com. 



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UNITED NATIONS ASSOCIATION FILM 
FESTIVAL, Oct. 19-23, CA. Deadline: June 1. 
Int'l film fest held at Stanford University, 
showcases doc films & videos dealing w/ UN- 
related issues: human rights, women's 
issues, environmental survival, war & peace, 
etc. All genres & lengths eligible. Founded: 
1998. Cats: any style or genre, doc, feature, 
short. Awards: Grand Jury Award, The 
Stanford Video Awards for Best 
Cinematography and Best Editing. Formats: 
16mm, 1/2", 35mm, DV. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $25 (up to 30 mm.); $35 (longer 
than 30 mm). Contact: Jasmma Bojic; (650) 
725-5544; fax: 725-0011; info@unaff.org; 
www.unaff.org. 

WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 13 17, NY 

Deadline: May 15; June 28 (final). Annual non- 
profit fest fosters an intimate, reciprocal rela- 
tionship between indie filmmakers, industry 
reps & audience members held in "the most 
famous little town in the whole world". 
Celebrating new voices of indie film w/ semi- 
nars, workshops, concerts & parties. Cats: 
feature, doc, short, music video, animation, 
student. Awards: Best feature, doc, short, ani- 
mation, cinematography, film score. Formats: 
35mm, Beta SP, DigiBeta. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $25-$50. Contact: Meira Blaustein; 
(845) 679-4265; info@wood stockfilmfesti 
val.com; www.woodstockfilmfestival.com. 

YOUNG PEOPLE'S FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, 

July, OR. Deadline: June 6. Young People's 
Film & Video Festival is an annual juried sur- 
vey of outstanding work by K-12 students 
from the Northwest (OR, WA, ID, MT, UT, AK). 
A jury reviews entries & assembles a program 
for public presentation. Judges' Certificates 
are awarded. About 20 films & videos are 
selected each year. Entries must have been 
made w/in previous 2 yrs. Founded: 1975. 
Cats: Student, any style or genre. Awards: 
Judges Certificates awarded. Formats: 
16mm, S-8, 3/4", 1/2", Hi8, CD-ROM, S-VHS, 
Super 8, DV, Mmi-DV, DVD. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: Kristin Konsterlie, 
Festival Coordinator; (503) 221-1 156; fax: 294- 
0874; kristm@nwfilm.org; www.nwfilm.org. 



INTERNATIONAL 



ANTIMATTER: UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL 

Sept. 16-24, Canada. Deadline: April 15; May 
31 (final). Annual int'l fest seeks "imaginative, 
volatile, entertaining & critical" films & videos. 
Antimatter is "dedicated to cinema as art vs. 
product, regardless of the subversive or dan- 
gerous nature of its content, stylistic concerns 
or commercial viability". Selected works may 
be included in upcoming int'l tours. Industrial, 
commercial & studio products ineligible. Max 
30 mm., completed w/m past two years. 
Founded: 1998. Cats: any style or genre, 
short. Formats: 1/2", 16mm, DVD, Mini-DV, 
Super 8. Preview on VHS, DVD. Entry Fee: 
$10; $20 (final). Contact: Todd Eacrett, 
Director; (250) 385-3327; fax: 385-3327; 
info@antimatter.ws; www.antimatter.ws 

BIENNIAL OF MOVING IMAGES, Nov 11-28, 
Switzerland. Deadline: May 16. Biennial fest 
seeks artistic video works & artistic experi- 
mental films of all lengths & genres made in 
the previous year. Cats: any style or genre. 
Awards: $15,000 in cash prizes. Formats: 
Beta SP, DVD, 16mm, 35mm, DV Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Centre for Contemporary Images; 011 41 22 
908 2000; fax: 41 22 908 2001; cic@sgg.ch; 
www.centreimage.ch/bim. 

BORDEAUX INT'L FESTIVAL OF WOMEN IN 
CINEMA, Oct. 3-9, France. Deadline: June 15 
(shorts), July 31 (features). This Festival is 
designed & catered to the women filmmak- 
ers. The Festival aims to bring together inno- 
vative films from women & to recognize the 
achievements of female filmmakers. Cats: 
feature, short. Awards: Jury, Lifetime 
Achievement, & Cash awards.. Formats: 
35mm, Beta SP Pal. Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: None. Contact: Festival Int'l du Cinema 
au Feminin; (011) 33 1 56 36 15 01; 
s.wiemann@cinemafemimn.com; www.cine 
mafeminin.com. 

GUERNSEY FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 7 9, United 
Kingdom. Deadline: May 31. Fest seeks ama- 
teur film & videos "made for love, w/ no finan- 
cial reward & w/out professional assistance 
other than processing, copying, or sound 
transfer." Works must be 30 mm. or less. 




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Cats: short. Awards: The winners of the fol- 
lowing amateur cats receive awards: 
Photography, Editing, Use of sound, Script, 
Fiction, Youth Entry, Animation, Doc, Acting 
Performance, Comedy. The Best Film in the 
Festival receives a special award & there are 
five runners up. The Open Section awards for 
First, Second, & Third places. Formats: super 
8, 8mm, 16mm, S-VHS, 1/2" (PAL), DV, Mini- 
DV. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $10. Contact: 
Peter & Mary Rouillard; 011 44 1481-238-147; 
fax: 011 44 1481-235-989; rouillard® 
cwgsy.net; www.guernseylily.com. 

INT'L 0RINTH0L0GICAL FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 

27-Nov. 1, France. Deadline: June 1. Annual 
fest shows about 40 films concerning ornitho- 
logical subjects, as well as all wildlife (wild 
mammals, reptiles or swimming creatures). 
Associations & orgs concerned w/ environ- 
mental issues invited to present activities in 
various forums. Regional tours organized each 
day specifically in bird watching areas & chil- 
dren's activities around ornithological subjects 
are held. 25-30 artists present photographs, 
paintings & sculpture. Entries must be French 
premieres. Founded: 1985. Cats: wildlife/envi- 
ronmental, doc, short. Awards: Cash awards. 
Formats: Beta SP. Preview on DVD. Entry 
Fee: None. Contact: Marie Christine Brouard; 
01 1 33 5 49 69 90 09; fax: 33 5 49 69 97 25; 
mainate@menigoute-festival.org; 
www.menigoute-festival.org. 

INVIDE0, Nov. 9-13, Italy. Deadline: June 17. 
Formats: Beta SP, DVD. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: A.I.A.C.E./ 
INVIDEO; 011 39 2 761 153 94; fax: 752 801 
19; www.mostramvideo.com. 

LOCARNO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 

August 3-13, Switzerland. Deadline: June 15. 
This major Swiss cultural/cinematic all-feature 
event, is known for its innovative program- 
ming & support of alternative visions from 
independent directors. Program, in addition to 
competition & Piazza Grande screenings, 
incls. video competition, Filmmakers of the 
Present, retrospective section, sidebar sec- 
tions, new Swiss cinema & film market. 
Presenting over 400 prods shown each year, 
the Festival receives a large amount of public- 
ity by the int'l press. Founded: 1948. Cats: 



feature, doc, short, animation, experimental, 
student. Awards: Golden Leopard; Grand Prix 
of the City of Locarno . Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Irene Bignardi, Festival 
Director; 011 41 91 756 2121; fax: 41 91 756 
2149; mfo@pardo.ch; www.pardo.ch. 

MALESCORTO, Aug. 4-10, Italy. Deadline: June 
1 . This fest brings together representatives 
from the world of local culture & professionals 
from the television sector & showcases 
shorts from filmmakers around the world. 
Cats: short, doc, children. Awards: Jury & 
cash awards. Formats: 35mm, 16mm. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Mauro Colnaghi; info@malescorto.it; 
www.malescorto.it. 

MILANO FILM FESTIVAL, September 10-19, 
Italy. Deadline: May 31. Annual fest invites 
features films & shorts (under 45 min.) from 
anyone who'd like to "invent, build, & destroy 
new ideas of cinema." Cats: any style or 
genre, feature, doc, short, animation, experi- 
mental, music video, student. Awards: 
Awards incl. Aprile Award. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, 8mm, DV, Beta SP, 1/2". Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: none. Contact: Festival, 011 
39 02 713 613; info@rmilanofilmfestival.it; 
www.milanofilmfestival.it. 

MORBEGNO FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 21-25, Italy 
Deadline: May 2. This Festival aims to recog- 
nize the creativity of filmmakers & to offer the 
public of the Province of Sondno the visions of 
others w/ respect to distribution into the com- 
mercial market. Cats: short, feature, doc. 
Awards: Cash awards. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Super 8, analog & digital video. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Associazione Culturale Zert; 
mff@zert.it; www.zert.it. 

MOVING PICTURES FESTIVAL OF DANCE ON 
FILM & VIDEO, Nov. 3-6, Canada. Deadline: 
May 30. Fest invites filmmakers, choreogra- 
phers & dance artists to submit film & video. 
This event is dedicated to exploring the inter- 
sections of dance & the camera. Rough cuts 
will be considered if accompanied by a 
detailed description & schedule for comple- 
tion. Cats: feature, doc, short, experimental, 



52 The Independent I May 2005 



animation, TV, installation. Awards: Grand 
Prize for Best Filmmaker. Formats: 16mm, 
35mm, Beta SP, 1/2", super 8. Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: $20 CDN; $30 US & Int'l. 
Contact: Kathleen Smith, Executive Director; 
(416) 961-5424; fax: 961-5624; mfo@moving- 
picturesfestival.com; www.movingpictures 
festival.com. 

PESARO FILM FESTIVAL June 24 July 2, Italy 
Deadline: May 7. Annual fest's "New 
Cinema" program. Production req. Italian pre- 
miere, completion after Jan. 1 of previous 
year. If not English or French spoken or subti- 
tled, enclose dialogue list in either language. 
Founded: 1964. Cats: feature, short, doc, 
experimental, animation features. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Betacam, 3/4". Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Fondazione 
Pesaro Nuovo Cinema; 011 39 06 445 6643; 
fax: 49 11 63; pesarofilmfest@mclink.it; 
www.pesarofilmfest.it. 

PLANET FOCUS: TORONTO ENVIRONMENTAL 
FILM FESTIVAL, Sept. 28-Oct. 2, Canada. 
Deadline: April 1; May 2. Fest pays special 
consideration to works that push the bound- 
aries of the accepted notions of 'environ- 
ment'; works that present cultural perspec- 
tives that are under-represented in Canada & 
works that will have their world or Canadian 
premiere at fest. Cats: any style or genre. 
Entry Fee: $15; $20 (final). Contact: Festival; 
(416) 531-1769; info@planetinfocus.org; 
www.planetinfocus.org. 

SALENTO INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 10-18, 
Italy. Deadline: March 30; June 10 (final). This 
Festival promotes Italian & int'l independent 
films to the public, in recognition of the fact 
that movies are the most powerful form of 
cultural communication & link between cul- 
tures & peoples. Cats: feature, doc, short 
Awards: Grand Jury awards. Formats: 35mm. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $30 (shorts); $50 
(features). Contact: SIFF; (818) 248-2349; fax: 
248-1 647; lnfo@salentofilmfestival.com; 
www.salentofilmfestival.com. 

SHEFFIELD INT'L DOC FESTIVAL, Oct 10-16, 
UK. Deadline: June 1 . Festival is "firmly estab- 
lished as one of the premier int'l events for 
documentary." Combining a program of ses- 



sions & masterclasses covering all issues per- 
tinent to documentary. Founded: 1994. Cats: 
doc, short, student, TV, feature. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Beta, Beta SP. Preview on 
VHS (PAL only) or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Emma Ryan; 011 44 114 276 5141; 
fax: 44 114 272 1849; emma@sidf.co.uk; 
www.sidf.co.uk. 

ST JOHN'S INT'L WOMEN'S FILM & VIDEO FES- 
TIVAL, October 18-22, Canada. Deadline: May 
31. Festival seeks films & videos made by 
women. Founded: 1989. Cats: Experimental, 
Animation, Feature, Doc. Awards: Non-com- 
petitive. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta, DVD, 
1/2". VHS. Entry Fee: $25. Contact: Program 
Committee; (709) 754-3141; fax: (709) 754- 
3143; womensfilm fest@nfld.net; www. worn 
ensfilm festival.com. 

VANCOUVER INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 29 
Oct. 14, Canada. Deadline: June 15 
(Canadian); July 5 (Int'l). Fest presents 300 
films from 50 countries at 8 cinemas over 16 
days & has become one of N. America's larg- 
er int'l fests (after Montreal & Toronto). Fest 
accepts Canadian shorts & features but only 
feature films from outside Canada that have 
not been screened commercially or broadcast 
in British Columbia. Founded: 1982. Cats: any 
style or genre, doc, feature, short. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, 70mm, 3/4", 1/2", Beta, Beta 
SP, DigiBeta, DV, DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: $50 ($30 U.S., non-Canadian only). 
Contact: PoChu AuYeung, Program Manager; 
(604) 685-0260; fax: 688-8221; viff@viff.org; 
www.viff.org. 

VENICE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 31 -Sept. 
10, Italy. Deadline: June 30. Fest is one of 
the most prestigious w/ several int'l sec- 
tions. Founded: 1932. Cats: feature, doc, 
short, animation, retro. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta SP, Experimental sections also 
accepts BVU & Betacam video, DigiBeta. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
La Biennale di Venezia Dept. of Cinema; 01 1 
390 41 521 871 1 ; fax: 390 41 522 7539; cm 
ema@labiennale.org; www.labiennale.org. 




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CAMERA RENTALS FOR LOW BUDGETS 

Production Junction is owned & operated by 
a fellow indpendent. Cameras, Lights, Mies, 
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Email:Chns@ProductionJunction.com or call 
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DIGIBETA/BETA-SP DECKS FOR RENT Best 
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DISTRIBUTION 

AQUARIUS HEALTH CARE VIDEOS is the lead- 
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films on health care issues. Our programs are 
educational and inspirational and focus on life 
challenging situations. We are currently 
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FANLIGHT PRODUCTIONS 20+ years as an 
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Send us your new works on healthcare, 
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THE CINEMA GUILD, leading film/video/multi- 
media distributor, seeks new doc, fiction, 
educational & animation programs for distri- 
bution. Send videocassettes or discs for 
evaluation to: The Cinema Guild, 130 
Madison Ave., 2nd fl„ New York, NY 10016; 
(212) 685-6242; info@CINEMAGUILD.COM; 
Ask for our Distribution Services brochure. 

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54 The Independent I May 2005 



ACCOUNTANT/BOOKKEEPER/CONTROLLER 

Experience in both corporate & nonprofit 
sectors. Hold MBA in Marketing & 
Accounting. Freelance work sought. Sam 
Sagenkahn (917) 374-2464. 

ARE YOU STUCK? FERNANDA ROSSI, script & 
documentary doctor, specializes in narrative 
structure in all stages of the filmmaking 
process, including story development, 
fundraising trailers and post-production. She 
has doctored over 30 films and is the author 
of Trailer Mechanics. For private consulta- 
tions and workshops visit www.documen 
tarydoctor.com or write to info@documen 
tarydoctor.com. 

CAMERAMAN/ STEADICAM OPERATOR: 

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DAT, lighting packages to shoot features, 
music videos, commercials, etc. Call Mik 
Cribben for info & reel, (212) 929-7728 in NY 
or 800-235-2713 in Miami. 

COMPOSER MIRIAM CUTLER loves to collabo- 
rate: docs, features. Lost In La Mancha/IFC, 
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Facing Aids/HBO, Indian Point/HBO, 
Positively Naked/HBO, Stolen Childhoodsa, 
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mir.cu@venzon.net. www.miriamcutler.com. 

COMPOSER: Original music for your film or 
video project. Will work with any budget. 
Complete digital studio. NYC area. Demo CD 
upon request. Call Ian O'Brien: (201) 222- 
2638: iobnen@bellatlantic.net. 

DP WITH ARRI SR SUPER 16/16MM and 35BL- 
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DIGITAL DP/CAMERA OPERATOR with a Sony 
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(516) 783 5790. 

CAMERA GROUP IN NYC seeking profession 
al cameramen and soundmen w/ solid 
Betacam experience to work w/ wide array 
of clients. If qualified, contact COA at (212) 
505-1911. Must have documentary/news 
samples or reel. 

GRANTWRITING/FUNDRAISING: Research, 
writing & strategy (for production, distribu- 
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ects). Successful proposals to NYSCA, NEA, 
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rates. Wanda Bershen, (212) 598-0224: 
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w/ timecode Nagra & DAT, quality mics & 
mixers. Reduced rates for low-budget 
projects. Harvey & Fred Edwards, (518) 
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DHTV, a progressive, nonprofit community 
media center and tv station in St. Louis, MO 
seeks works by indie producers. Half hour 
and 1 hour lengths. S-VHS accepted, DVD 
preferred. Non-exclusive rights release upon 
acceptance. No pay but exposure to 60,000 
cable households. Contact Mariah 
Richardson, dhTV, 625 N. Euclid, St. Louis, 
Mo 63108, (314) 361-8870 x230, 
mariah@dhtv.org. 

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL 
RIGHTS! Camera! Action! is a new, annual 
event celebrating reproductive health & 
rights at grassroots organizations and univer- 
sities nationwide. Films on abortion, birth 
control, reproductive technologies, sex ed & 
GLBTQ issues elegible. Entry deadline July 
1 st. Contactsubmit@rightscameraaction.net 
or InCite 347 W 36th St Ste 901, NY, NY 
10018. Submissions cannot be returned. 

THE QUITTAPAHILLA FILM FESTIVAL is looking 
for features, shorts and documentaries for 
its Sept. 30-Oct 2, 2005 juried festival. See 
full details for entry at our website: 
qfilms.org. Send submissions on VHS or 
DVD to: Attn. OFF, c/o The Allen Theatre, 36 
E. Main Street, Annville, PA 17003. Postmark 
entries by July 1, 2005. Entree fee is $25. 

POSTPRODUCTION 

AUDIO POST PRODUCTION Full service audio 
post-production facility. Mix-to-picture, ADR, 
voice-over, sound design & editing. Features, 
shorts, docs, TV & Radio. Contact Andy, All 
Ears Inc: (718) 399-6668 (718) 496-9066 
andy@allearspost.com. 

BRODSKY & TREADWAY film-to-tape trans 
fers, wet-gate, scene-by-scene, reversal film 
only. Camera original Regular 8mm, Super 8, 
and 16mm. For appointment call (978) 948- 
7985. 



May 2005 I The Independent 55 




Before the movie was an official selection of the 2005 Sundance Film 
Festival, and before the radio story hit the airwaves, Fair was (is) a hand- 
bound edition of 40 books. The books are bound dos-a-dos and divided 
into two sections: DAY and NIGHT. Each section contains a cd of ambient 
sounds that correspond to a sequence of video stills from the Brockton Fair. 

Every fair is essentially two fairs: one sunny and bright, full of cuddly 
animals and babies; the other dark and ambiguously dangerous, more 
grown-up and aggressive. The text at the beginning of each section is 
inspired by the tone of the imagery and the sounds found in that section. 
The overall effect is at once personal and exotic. The form of the object is 
book, but strangely so. The subject is one we all know, yet it is one that we 
have mythologized into a (somewhat treacherous) fantasy world of odd- 
balls, oddities, misfits, and shysters. We know what to expect at the fair; we 
are delighted when we find it. Turning the pages of the video stills, hearing 
the sounds, feels, in the words of one viewer, "like reading a movie." 

Like its namesake, Fair contains elements of familiarity and surprise, as 
the artist re-creates the fair experience visually, aurally, and structurally 
in the book. Each section contains one popup designed and constructed by 
the artist, and there are several flyouts and pulldowns for the reader to 
unfold and peek inside. The artwork on each cd, the covers, and the spines 
of the books is stenciled and stamped by hand, making each book unique, 
and the cover paper, book cloth, and paint combinations vary. 










To determine pricing and availability, 
post your inquiry directly to the artist: 

Jason Rayles 

435 Broadway #403 

Brooklyn, NY 11211 

or telephone 718 388 3802 
or electronic mail fair@23grand.com 



for more information, see http://23grand.com 



POSTPRODUCTION 

NEGATIVE CUTTING FOR FEATURES, short 
films etc. Expert conforming of 35mm, 
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Avid cut list. Superb quality work and 
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617-244-6730 mwdp@att.net. 

PRODUCTION TRANSCRIPTS Verbatim tran 
scnption service for documentaries, 
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349-3022. 

PREPRODUCTION I 
DEVELOPMENT 




m 



Free Project Evaluation 



244 Fifth Avenue. Suile # 2518. NY. NY. 10001 



STORY DEVELOPMENT With 8 years 
Miramax experience, script/story/creative 
consultant Maureen Nolan offers a full 
range of consulting services for writers 
and filmmakers. Script consults, coaching, 
story development, rewrites, etc. 212- 
663-9389 or 917-620-6502. 

WEB 

POST YOUR FILM TRAILER, demo reel, video 
resume on your website and/or send them 
via E-mail to any e-mail address. Great ma 
keting tool! $.05 per viewing minute. Call or 
e-mail Tom Aguilar at (480) 459-1 1 14 or visit 
my website for more info. 

WEB SITE DESIGNER: Create multimedia web 
sites, integrating video, sound, and special 
effects, that promote your films and/or your 
company, www.sabineprobstdesign.com. 
Info: Sabine Probst, phone: 646-226-7881, 
email: sabine@spromo.net. 



56 The Independent I December 2004 



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COMPETITIONS 



2005 SANTA BARBARA SCRIPT COMPETITION 

seeks submissions. Entry fee $40. Grand 
Prize $2000 Option, First Prize $750. All win- 
ners will also receive screenwriting related 
books, materials and or software. Special 
Cash Award for Regional Writer to be award- 
ed to a South Coast Resident. (Santa Barbara, 
Ventura, San Luis Obispo counties in 
California). Regular submission deadline is 
June 30th and late is July 31. Contact: 
Geoff@santabarbarascript.com. 

BUSINESS FILMS ELAN announces new 
screenplay contest: $1000 Feature-length 
Screenplay Contest — Deadline: June 15, 
2005 — Entry is free and winning films will be 
slotted for production. For more information 
and submission guidelines, www.business 
film.com/businessfilmelan.html. 

GLOBAL ENTERTAINMENT & MEDIA SUMMIT 
2005: New York City: May 14-15, 2005. A live- 
ly and engaging forum of people with vision 
from the independent and mainstream music, 
film, video and multimedia worlds of the 
entertainment, media, and communications 
industries. People connect with people, 
exchanging ideas and creating projects in a 
context of innovation, reinvention, and possi- 
bility. Together, this community is proactively 
effecting new ways to achieve sustainable 
careers and the direction of the revolution 
now taking place in marketing and distribu- 
tion. For more information visit www.globa 
lentertammentnetwork.com. 



THE EXPERIMENTAL TELEVISION CENTER 
INTERNATIONAL RESIDENCY 2005 is a collabo- 
rative video and sonic arts course, sponsored 
by the Institute for Electronic Arts (IEA) and 
accredited through the School of Art and 
Design at Alfred University, for professionals 
and both undergraduate and graduate 
students May 25-June 5, 2005. Activities 
include daily tech lectures on equipment oper- 
ation, with lab times for independent and col- 
laborative art-making. Registration is limited. 
There is a fee. For additional information and 
registration contact Pam Hawkins hawkin 
sp@alfred.edu. 

RESOURCES FUNDS 



FUNDING FOR INDIE PRODUCTIONS: LOCAL 
INDEPENDENTS COLLABORATING with STA 
TIONS (LlnCS) from Independent Television 
Service (ITVS) provides matching funds up to 
$1 00,000 for collaborations between public TV 
stations and indie producers. Projects may be 
in any stage of development and all genres are 
eligible, including documentary, drama, anima- 
tion and innovative combinations. Only single 
shows, 26:40 or 56:40, are eligible. Programs 
should stimulate civic discourse and find inno- 
vative ways to explore regional, cultural, politi- 
cal, social or economic issues. Indie film and 
videomakers are encouraged to seek collabo- 
rations with local public TV stations. Deadline: 
May 26, 2005. Guidelines and applications at 
www.itvs.org, or call Elizabeth Meyer (415) 
356-8383 x270; Elizabeth_Meyer@itvs.org. 

GLOBAL CENTER, a nonprofit, IRS-certified 
501(c)(3) educational foundation, seeks film- 
makers seeking fiscal sponsors. For more info, 
call (212) 246-0202, or email roc@globalvi 
siefi,org; www.globalvision.org. 

MEDIA ARTS TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FUND is 

designed to help non-profit media arts pro- 
grams in New York State stabilize, strengthen 
or restructure their media arts organizational 
capacity, services and activities. The fund will 
provide up to $2,000 per project to organiza- 
tions which receive support from NYSCAs 
Electronic Media and Film program. The Media 
Arts Technical Assistance fund can assist with 
the hiring of consultants or other activities 



CIVILIAN 



WHAT'S THE BUZZ? 



The Civilians is wrapping up its 
fourth successful season. Read 
what everyone's saying... 



"If you can't name many 
'documentary cabaret' theatre 
companies, it could be |" 
because Steve Cosson's 
Civilians more or less | 
invented the genre." 



American Theatre Magazine 



"Those craving musical wit 
| and sophistication have to 
look to the cheeky art songs 
of Michael Friedman, the 
resident composer 
of The Civilians." 



Time Out New York 



"A collective like the 
Civilians, which was cr eated 
by some extraordinarily 
talented actors and equally 
talented directors, provides 
new venues for fresh writing. 
Cross-fertilization isT 
everywhere." 



The Village Voice 



In our hectic modern world 
there are many ways to lose 
J things, and many things to 
lose: the will to live, the plot, 
[a war. These and others are 
^explored in the UK debut 
of Gone Missing by the 
acclaimed New York 
company The Civilians." 



The Times of London 

Check out The Civillians 

and see what independent theater 

is all about! 

www.thecivilians.org 



May 2005 I The Independent 57 



INTRODUCING THE 

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mercerMEDIA 

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RECENT PROJECTS INCLUDE: 

Nanette Burstein & Jordan Roberts 
Film School 

Bill Plympton 
Hair High 

Bobby Abate & Peggy Ahwesh 
Certain Women 

Diane Bonder 
Closer to Heaven 

Tareque Masud 
The Clay Bird 

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which contribute to organizational, manage- 
ment and programming issues which influ- 
ence the media arts activities. Contact Sherry 
Miller Hocking, Program Director at 
Experimental Television Center deadlines for 
application are July 1 , and October 1 . 

NEW YORK FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS, in col- 
laboration with arts councils and cultural organ- 
izations across New York State, is offering 
Special Opportunity Stipends (SOS) designed 
to help individual artists of all disciplines take 
advantage of unique opportunities that will sig- 
nificantly benefit their work or career develop- 
ment. Literary, media, visual, music and per- 
forming artists may request support ranging 
from $100 to $600 for specific, forthcoming 
opportunities that are distinct from work in 
progress. Please note: SOS is only available to 
artists NOT living in the five boroughs of New 
York City. For further information, please con- 
tact Shawn Miller, by phone at (212) 366-6900 
x350 or by email at smiller@nyfa.org. 

PACIFIC ISLANDERS IN COMMUNICATIONS 
(PIC) OPEN DOOR COMPLETION FUNDS arepro- 
vided for the final preparations of broadcast 
masters of Pacificlslander-themed programs 
intended for national public television. 
Categories:doc, performance, children's & cul- 
tural affairs programming. PIC is particularlyin- 
terested in projects that examine & illuminate 
realities of Pacific Islandenssues such as but 
not limited to diversity, identity, & spirituality. 
Afull-length rough cut must be submitted w/ 
application. Awards up to $50,000. Deadline: 
ongoing. Contact: Gus Cobb-Adams, Media 
Fund, PIC, 1221 Kapi'olani Blvd. 6A-4, 
Honolulu, HI 96814; Tel.; (808) 591-0059 x 16; 
fax: 591-1114; gcobb-adams@piccom.org; 
applications available at www.piccom.org. 

TEXAS FILMMAKERS' PRODUCTION FUND: is 

an annual grant awarded to emerging film & 
video artists who are residents of Texas. 
Grants range from $1,000 to $15,000 for 
regionally produced projects for any genre. In 
Sept. the Fund will award $75,000 in grants 
ranging from $1,000-$1 5,000. Deadline: June 
1 . Appl. avail, at Texas Filmmakers' Production 
Funds, 1901 East 51st St., Austin, TX 78723; 
(512) 322-0145 or www.austinfilm.org. 

THE SEVENTH GENERATION FUND provides 
technical assistance in the form of workshops, 
conferences, training, and grant funding for 



projects. Small grants range from $600 to 
$10,000 per year in assistance to seed an 
emerging organization, to help cover the gen- 
eral operation costs of an existing organiza- 
tion or specific project, or to cover related 
expenses that help a project accomplish its 
work and fulfill its mission in the community; 
Training & Technical Assistance Financial sup- 
port of $600 to $5,000 per year to facilitate 
project-specific trainign, pay for experts/spe- 
cial consultants, and /pr provide for other 
capacity building needs. (Training and 
Technical Assistance grants are also available 
for projects to acquire new skills through 
regional workshops, national forums, and 
special conferences); and mini-grants are 
offered from $50 to $500. For more informa- 
tion, www.7genfund.org. Deadline is: June 1, 
September 1, 2005. 

MICROCINEMAS SCREENINGS 

4TH ANNUAL BARE BONES SCRIPT-2-SCREEN 
FEST & SCREENWRITERS CONFERENCE in 

Tulsa, OK is looking for independent 
screenwriters & filmmakers to enter com- 
petition in variety of categories: feature 
screenplays & movies, short movies & 
screenplays, teleplays, trailers, doc, ani- 
mation, actor monologues, Shoot 'N OK 
location micro-screenplay will get pro- 
duced. Submission Deadline for the 
Festival, which will take place between 
October 13-16 is July 31, 2005. For more 
details email scnpt2screenfest 

©yahoo.com or visit www.scnpt2screen 
filmfestival.com. 

DOCUCLUB'S IN-THE WORKS PROGRAM 

offers filmmakers a safe environment to 
screen a rough-cut of their documentaries 
before an audience of their peers and lovers 
of the form. The audience is encouraged to 
give constructive feedback about the struc- 
ture, content, characters and clarity of the 
film in a post-screening discussion facilitated 
by an experienced filmmaker. A cheese and 
wine reception will follow to give everyone a 
chance to network. Submission require- 
ments can be found on our website at 
http://docuclub.org /filmdirectory/submis- 
sions.html If you have any questions please 
email David at mail@docuclub.org or call (212) 
582-3055. 



58 The Independent I December 2004 



MICROCINEMA S INDEPENDENT EXPOSURE 
2005, an ongoing microcinema screening pro- 
gram of international short films, videos & dig- 
ital works has been presented hundreds of 
times in 35 countries and Antarctica and 2005 
is its tenth season. Seeking short video, film & 
digital media submissions of 15 mm. or less 
on ongoing basis for ongoing screening and 
touring program. Artists qualify for a nonex- 
clusive distribution deal. Looking for short nar- 
rative, alternative, humorous, dramatic, erotic, 
animation, etc. Submit DVD or VHS (NTSC/ 
PAL) labeled w/ name, title, length, phone # & 
support materials, incl. photos. Submissions 
will not be returned. Contact: Joel S. Bachar, 
Microcinema International, 531 Utah St., San 
Francisco, CA 941 1 0; info@microcinema.com; 
www.microcinema.com. 

POTHOLE PICTURES, a 420 seat movie house 
in Shelbume Falls, MA, seeks films for "Meet 
the Filmmaker" series, which features a dis- 
cussion & reception following your film's 
screening. Any length/genre. Format: 35mm, 
DVD or VHS. Connection to New England 
through subject matter, filming locations, or 
hometown of filmmakers, helpful but not nec- 
essary. Send VHS or DVD preview to Fred 
DeVecca, Pothole Pictures, Box 368, 
Shelbume Falls, MA 01370; frogprod@sky 
wayusa.com. 

THE IDEA WORKSHOP is an intimate pitching 
session where accepted filmmakers pitch 
their ideas to industry representatives who, in 
turn, provide feed back on the strength of the 
pitch and the potential markets for the film's 
subject matter. This way, they get to practice 
their pitch, and the audience gets a sense of 
how this all-important facet of documentary 
funding and production happens as well. 
Submission requirements can be found on our 
website at http://docuclub.org/filmdirectory 
/submissions. html If you have any questions 
please email David at mail@docuclub.org or 
call (212) 582-3055. 

TIMEBASE, a new moving image series in 
Kansas City, seeks innovative short films, 
videos, installations & web-based projects. 
No entry fee. Rolling deadline. Send VHS, 
DVD, or CD-Rom: Timebase, 5100 Rockhill Rd 
Haag 202, KC MO 641 10. Tel: (816) 235-1708; 
www.time-base.org. 



GALLERIES EXHIBITIONS 

EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY HISTORIC 
SITE in PA seeks artists for exhibition at the 
site. Some funding avail, for media arts. 
Proposals are reviewed annually each fall. 
See website for info/deadline. To request 
an application, or schedule an orientation 
tour, contact Brett Bertolino at (215) 236- 
51 1 1 ex. 12, or at bb@EasternState.org, or 
visit www.easternstate.org. 

TOURING PROGRAMS 

FREE FORM FILM FESTIVAL is a year-round 
touring event created by loaf-i.com and 
inner mission productions is now taking 
submissions. Seeking films/videos of all 
formats and genres (but please submit on 
NTSC VHS for initial consideration). The 
FFFF brings an eclectic collection of inno- 
vative films to cities and towns across the 
United States. Enter now to be considered 
for our west coast tour in September. Enter 
anytime for other tours/exhibitions. The 
FFFF is non-competitive, but offers oppor- 
tunity for screenings all over the U.S. Entry 
fee is $15 for residents of the U.S. and 
Canada. There is no entry fee for residents 
of other countries. See freeformfilm.org for 
details and entry forms. 

REALITY BITES, the unique restaurant/ screen- 
ing room launched by renowned documentar- 
lan Steven M Manin, is currently accepting 
submissions of original content of any and all 
genres/lengths for exhibition. Reality Bites is 
located in Nyack, NY,. For more info, call 
845.358.8800, or visit www.realitybites.net. 

BROADCASTS CABLECASTS 

HENDERSON TELEVISION (HTV), Henderson 
State University's cablecast network seeks 
short films of all genres to screen as part of 
its weekly television programming. Student 
projects are given priority, but everyone is 
encouraged to submit their work. Send 
contact information, filmmaker's bio, a brief 
description of the work and a VHS, SVHS, 
DV or DVD copy to: HTV, 1 100 Henderson 
Street, HSU Box 7582, Arkadelphia, AR, 
71999. (870) 230-5215. 




RESTRICTED ® 



UNDER 17 REQUIRES ACCOMPANYING I 
PARENT OR ADULT GUARDIAN 



PERVASIVE DRUG A ALCOHOL ABUSE, LANGUAGE 
& SOME SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY 



December 2004 I The Independent 59 



SCHOOL OF THE ARTS 



ANNUAL 



COLUMBIA 
UNIVERSITY 

FILM FESTIVAL 

2005 

NEW YORK CITY— MAY Ft<>8 t -* 

SYMPHONY SPACE 

McGRAW HILL 

LOS ANGELES— JUNE 7 T - H « 9 T - H 
PACIFIC DESIGN CENTER 



WWW.CUFILMFEST.COM 

212.854.1547 




Wo 



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AQUARIUS HEALTH CARE MEDIA is expanding 
our list of quality award winning videos/DVD's 
on Life Challenges. We have a strong interest 
in programs on aging, caregiving, teen/youth 
issues, disabilities, chronic disease, comple- 
mentary therapies and mental health issues. 
Visit www.aquariusproductions.com and 
email brief synopses to lbk@aquariusproduc- 
tions.com or contact Aquarius Health Care 
Videos at 888-440-2963,18 No Main St, 
Sherborn, MA 01770. 

CAPE COD FILM SOCIETY SCREENING SERIES 

of Brewester, MA, seeks films & videos of all 
types on an ongoing basis. Films can be any 
length, genre or style, but should be the type 
of work that will stimulate discussion, as well 
as entertaining a general adult audience. We 
hold several screenings a year, including a 
short film competition each spring, and gener- 
ally ask filmmakers to present their work in 
person. There are no fees and some screen- 
ings include a nominal honorarium. Please 
send work on VHS, DVD, or mim-DV w/ film- 
maker bio and synopsis. Also indicate your 
availability to appear with your work for Q&A. 
Send to: Rebecca M. Alvin, Cape Cod Film 
Society Series, PO Box 1727, Brewster, MA 
02631-7727. For more info, visit www.geoci 
ties.com/capecodfilm or filmsociety@com 
cast.net 

MADCAT seeks provocative and visionary 
films and videos directed or co-directed by 
women. Films can be of any length or genre 



and produced ANY year. MadCat is commit- 
ted to showcasing work that challenges the 
use of sound and image and explores notions 
of visual story telling. All subjects/topics will 
be considered. Submission Fee: $10-30 slid- 
ing scale. Pay what you can afford. For an 
entry form and more details go to www.mad- 
catfilmfestival.org or call 415 436-9523. 
Preview Formats: VHS or DVD. Exhibition 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Super8, Beta SP, 
Mini DV, VHS. All entries must include a SASE 
for return of materials. Early Deadline: March 
25, 2005. Final Deadline: May 13, 2005. 

MINDJAKK DIGITAL STUDIOS is seeking sub 
missions for their new show called 
Independent Axis, which showscases inde- 
pendent art: shorts primarily and videos, trail- 
ers, web short, flash animation and artists 
showcase. Submissions are free of charge 
and will be broadcast to a possible 80,000 
households on a NBC affiliate. You can find 
out more information about the show or us at 
www.mind|akk.com. 

URBAN MEDIAMAKERS FILM FESTIVAL 2005 
is accepting submissions for the 4th Annual 
Urban Mediamakers Film Festival to be held in 
Atlanta, Georgia, October 14-16, 2005. All 
genres accepted including short, feature, and 
documentaries on VHS and DVD (DVD copies 
must include a VHS as well). Deadline for sub- 
missions is August 1 , 2005 with a entry fee of 
$10. Please mail a VHS/DVD copy of your film 
and include a synopsis of the film, length of 
film, a short bio and resume of the 
director/producer/writer. Also include press 
materials if they are available. Maill all entries 
to: Urban Mediamakers Film Festival 2005, 
PMB 315, 1353 Riverstone Parkway, Suite 
120, Canton, Georgia 30114, Attention: 
Festival Coordinator. For more information 
visit www.urbanmediamakers.com or call 
770.345.8048. 



60 The Independent I December 2004 




9™ANNUAL 
LOS ANGELES 
INTERNATIONAL 
SHORT FILM FESTIVAL 

CALL FOR ENTRIES 

FILMS & SCRIPTS 

FINAL DEADLINE JUNE 17, 2005 

SUBMIT ONLINE AT LASHORTSFEST.COM TEL : 323-851-9100 




SILVERDOCS 

AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival 

June 14-19, 2005 




1 



"A fantastic, two year old documentary film festival 

- USA Today 



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CONFERENCE REGISTRATION 

Register early for priority access to top executives 
Register on-line at SILVERDOCS.com 




SILVI DOCJ 




6 days of screenings, more than 75 films 
3-Day International Documentary Conference - June 15-17, 2005 

All in the Washington, DC area— where politics, media and art converge 



ILVERDOCS.com 



THANK YOU 



The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 
(AIVF) provides a wide range of programs and services 
for independent moving image makers and the media 
community, including The Independent and a series of 
resource publications, seminars and workshops, infor- 
mation services, and arts and media policy advocacy. 

None of this work would be possible without the 
generous support of the AIVF membership and the 
following organizations: 

We also wish to thank the following individuals and 
organizational members: 



rsf 



Slate cJ »«• Art, 

NYSCA 



Adobe Systems, Inc. 

City of New York Dept. of Cultural Affairs 

Discovery Wines 

Experimental Television Center Ltd. 

Forest Creatures Entertainment, Inc. 

Home Box Office 

The Jewish Communal Fund 

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 

NAMAC 

The Nathan Cummings Foundation 

The National Endowment for the Arts 

New York State Council on the Arts 

The Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation 

Panasonic USA 

Public Media, Inc. 

Yuengling Beer 



BUSINESS/INDUSTRY MEMBERS: AL: Cypress Moon Productions; 
AZ: Ascension Pictures; CA: Arrowire LLC; Groovy Like a Movie; 
llluminaire Entertainment, Media Del'Arte; San Diego Asian Film 
Foundation; SJPL Films, Ltd.; CO: Pay Reel; CT: Anvil Production; 
DC: Corporation for Public Broadcasting; FL: Academy Leader Inc; 
Key West Films Society; New Screen Broacasting; GA: Lab 601 
Digital Post; IL: Shattering Paradigms Entertainment, LLC; MA: 
Exit One Productions; MD: NewsGroup, Inc.; TLF Limited 
Management; Ml: Logic Media LLC; NH: Kinetic Films; NY: 
American Montage; Baraka Productions; Cypress Films; DeKart 
Video; Deutsch/Open City Films; Docurama; Forest Creatures 
Entertainment; getcast.com; Gigantic Brand; Greenhouse 
Pictures LLC; Harmonic Ranch; Lantern Productions; Larry Engel 
Productions Inc.; Lightworks Producing Group; Mad Mad Judy; 
Mercer Media; Missing Pixel; Off Ramp Films, Inc.; On the Prowl 
Productions; OVO; Possibilites Unlimited; Production Central; 
Range Post; Robin Frank Management; Rockbottom 
Entertainment, LLC; Triune Pictures; United Spheres Production; 
OR: Art Institute of Portland; Rl: The Revival House; WA: Sound 
Wise; Two Dogs Barking; Singapore: Crimson Forest Films 

NONPROFIT MEMBERS: AR: Henderson State University; 
AZ: Pan Left Productions; CA: Bay Area Video Coalition; California 
Newsreel; Everyday Gandhis Project; Film Arts Foundation; 
International Buddhist Film Festival; NALIP; New Images 
Productions; Sundance Institute; USC School of Cinema and TV; 
CO: Denver Center Media; Free Speech TV: CT: Film Fest New 
Haven; Hartley Film Foundation; DC: American University School 
of Communication; CINE; Gaea Foundation; FL: Miami 
International Film Festival; University of TampaTGA: Image Film 
and Video Center; HI: Pacific Islanders in Communications; IL: Art 
Institute of Chicago (Video Data Bank); Community Television 
Network; Department of Communication/NLU; Kartemquin Films; 
IN: Fort Wayne Cinema Center; KY: Appalshop; Paducah Film 
Society; MA: CCTV; Documentary Educational Resources; 
Harvard University, OsCLibrary; LTC; MD: 7 Oils Production; 
Laurel Cable Network; Silverdocs: AFI Discovery Channel Doc 
Festival; ME: Maine Photographic Workshop; Ml: Ann Arbor Film 
Festival; MN: IFP/MSP; Walker Art Center; MO: Webster 
University Film Series; NC: Calcalorus Film Foundation; Duke 
University, Film & Video Dept.; University of North Carolina, Dept. 
of Broadcast and Cinema; UNC, Wilmington; NE: Nebraska 
Independent Film Project/AIVF Salon Lincoln; Ross Media Center, 
UN-Lincoln; NJ: Black Maria Film Festival; Capriole Productions; 



Freedom Film Society, Inc.; Princeton University, Program in 
Visual Arts; NM: Girls Film School; University of New Mexico; NY: 
ActNow Productions; Arts Engine; Cornell Cinema; Council for 
Positive Images, Inc.; Creative Capital Foundation; Crowing 
Rooster Arts; Educational Video Center; Film Forum; Film Society 
of Lincoln Center; Firelight Media; International Film Seminars; 
LMC-TV; Manhattan Neighborhood Network; Melted.org; National 
Black Touring Circuit; National Black Programming Consortium; 
National Musuem of the American Indian; National Video 
Resources; New York University, Cinema Studies; New York 
Women in Film and Television; Parnassus Works; POV/The 
American Documentary; RIT School of Film and Animation; School 
of Visual Arts, Film Department; Squeaky Wheel; Standby 
Program; Stonestreet Studios Film and TV Acting Workshop; 
Stony Brook Film Festival; Syracuse University; Upstate Films, 
Ltd.; Witness; Women Make Movies; OH: Athens Center for Film 
And Video; Independent Pictures/AIVF Ohio Salon; Media Bridges 
Cincinatti; School of Film, Ohio University; Wexner Center; 
Northest Film Center; The Oregon Film & Video Foundation; PA: 
American Poetry Center; Philadelphia Independent Film & Video 
Assoc. (PIFVA); Pittsburgh Filmmakers; Scribe Video Center; 
TeamChildren.com; Rl: Flickers Arts Collaborative; TN: Indie 
Memphis Film Festival; TX: Austin Film Society; Southwest 
Alternate Media Project; UT Sundance Institute; WA: Seattle 
Central Community College; Thurston Community Television; 
Canada: Banff Centre Library; France: The Carmago Foundation 

FRIENDS OF AIVF: Angela Alston, Sabina Maja Angel, Tom 
Basham, Aldo Bello, David Bemis, Doug Block, Liz Canner, Hugo 
Cassirer, Williams Cole, Anne del Castillo, Arthur Dong, Martin 
Edelstein, Esq., Aaron Edison, Paul Espinosa, Karen Freedman, 
Lucy Garrity, Norman Gendelman, Debra Granik, Catherine Gund, 
Peter Gunthel, David Haas, Kyle Henry, Lou Hernandez, Lisa 
Jackson, John Kavanaugh, Stan Konowitz, Leonard Kurz, Lyda 
Kuth, Steven Lawrence, Bart Lawson, Regge Life, Juan 
Mandelbaum, Diane Markrow, Tracy Mazza, Leonard McClure, 
Daphne McDuffie-Tucker, Jim McKay, Michele Meek, Robert 
Millis, Robert Millis, Richard Numeroff, Elizabeth Peters, Laura 
Poitras, Robert Richter, Hiroto Saito, Larry Sapadin, James 
Schamus, John Schmidt, Nat Segaloff, Robert Seigel, Gail Silva, 
Innes Smolansky, Barbara Sostaric, Alexander Spencer, Miriam 
Stern, George Stoney, Rhonda Leigh Tanzman, Rahdi Taylor, Karl 
Trappe, Jane Wagner, Bart Weiss 



May 2005 I The Independent 63 



THE LIST 

WHAT HAS CHANGED 
(OR NOT) IN INDIE FILM? 

By Lindsay Gelfand 

Given that the perception of "independent film" has evolved in recent years, 

we posed the following questions to our favorite filmmakers this month: 

What are the things about independent film that will never change? Or should never change? 



"The spirit of independent cinema rests in the autuer's will- answer to someone is the giving up of control. As a writer, a 

ingness to go to whatever lengths needed to get the story told in producer, an actor, and a director, true independence assures me 

the way that serves the story, not popular appeal. This, to me, is that the vision I set out to make will become a reality." 

truly independent cinema." — Dave West, writer-director Puddlejumper 

— Genevieve Anderson, writer/director and The Do Over, Sandbox Pictures 



"We'll never be able to get distribution unless we sucker a star 
into an "Oscar" role, make a film with chainsaws and severed 
arteries, or borrow more money to pay for a team of PR execs 
and producers reps to get us into Sundance. But what the hell, 
we'll still have our vision, our integrity, and our dream. 
Hopefully that will never change." 

— Stacey Childers, producer/director, 
Delivery Boy Chronicles 

"Independent film is and always will be about the passion to 
tell a certain story. That passion goes beyond focus groups and 
marketing which may come later, but a true indie's lifeblood 
stems from a writer, director, or producer's obsession to make, 
by any means necessary, their film, their way." 

— Kyle Schickner, writer-director, Strange Fruit, 

Fencesitter Films 

"Independent film still allows a writer-director's vision to get 
to the screen with less interference from studio executives justi- 
fying their salaries. So, basically, less hands in the cookie 
jar.. .'cause we really like our cookies." 

— Michael Irpino &C Joe Dietl, writer-directors, 

The Thin Pink Line 

"The main thing about independent film that will never 
change is the freedom that it offers. By the pure definition of 
independence it offers you to make the decisions and in the 
making of a film that is huge. The worst thing about having to 



"Independent filmmaking should always embody the spirit 
of the auteur, whether it's DIY or guerilla style. It should be 
small, lightweight, and turn-on-a-dime agile in getting risk-tak- 
ing and highly original ideas onto film or video. No bloat and 
safety net here." 

— Sam Chen, director/animator, Eternal Gaze 

"The only thing about independent film I can honestly say 
hasn't and should never change is the strength, clarity, and diver- 
sity of the voice (and voices) that create it. Without those voic- 
es, the kinds of stories that touch you, change you, and impact 
you directly would never exist. To my mind, that's the heart of 
independent film, regardless of how it is packaged and made." 

— Eli Brown, director/editor, 
Marry Me: Stories from the San Francisco Weddings 

"I think what will never change about independent film is 
that there will always be hundreds of people, some of them tal- 
ented, and some of them not, who are compelled, for better or 
for worse, to share their vision and art with the world. What 
should, and I would imagine, never will change, is that inde- 
pendent cinema has been and will be free from commercial 
influences, the absurd 'trend' following studio impulses or doc- 
trines and the heavy hand of product placement and corporate 
governance. Independent cinema will always have room to be 
fresh and free, and unique in its vision and combined images." 
— Orly Ravid, film distributor/grass roots marketer, 

Baise Moi 



64 The Independent I May 2005 




They make 
We sell it. 



The ITN Archive holds one of the biggest collections of news material anywhere 
in the world, and includes Reuters Television, several international newsreels and 
British Independent Television News, all fully searchable at www.itnarchive.com 



ITN Archive (New York) 


ITN Archive (Los Angeles) 


The Reuters Building 


3500 West Olive Ave 


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Suite 1490 


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Burbank 


New York 


CA 91505 


NY 10036 


Tel: 818 953 4115 


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ARRIVING APRIL 1 8 

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a magazine for video and filmmakers 



THE 




A Publication of The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 

www.aivf.org 




They make t 
We sell it. 



The ITN Archive holds one of the biggest collections of news material anywhere 
in the world, and includes Reuters Television, several international newsreels and 
British Independent Television News, all fully searchable at www.itnarchive.com 



ITN Archive (New York) 

The Reuters Building 

3 Times Square 

4th Floor 

New York 

NY 10036 

Tel: 646 223 6671 

Fax: 646 233 6675 

Email: nysales@itnarchive.com 



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Suite 1490 

Burbank 

CA 91505 

Tel: 818 953 4115 

Fax: 818 953 4137 

Email: lasales@itnarchive.com 



ITN Archive 






t& 



& 











AIVF Screenwriter 
Mentorship 2005 

DEADLINE: Monday, June 6, 2005 



For complete submissions details, visit 

www.aivf.org 



AVF 



association of independent 
video and filmmakers 



The AIVF Screenwriter Project is a mentorship program that aims to give 
independent screenwriters, writer-producers, and writer-directors an 
opportunity to develop their scripts. Over a four-month period, 
participants will receive professional industry story notes, consultations 
and script coaching, as well as peer support and feedback. The AIVF 
Screenwriter Project seeks writers who are actively working on a screenplay 
they intend to have produced or marketed. 



Sundance Online Film Festival 



WWW.SUNDANCE.ORG 

LIVE THRU JUNE 20, 2005 

FREE FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD 







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Chamaco (Kid) (2004) 



Short films from the 
Sundance Film Festival, ground- 
breaking work created just for the 
Internet, exclusive interviews with 
filmmakers from Craig Brewer 
(Hustle & Flow) to Eugene Jarecki 
(Why We Fight), and live coverage 
from the streets of Park City are all 
part of what you'll find on the 
Sundance Online Film Festival. 




Log on now through June 20 to 
experience the best of the 2005 
Sundance Film Festival for free 
from anywhere in the world. 



Husk (2004) 




SOFT 



20O5 

Sundance Online Film Festival 



>ove (2005) 



Volume 28 Number 5 

Cover: Hustle & Flow star Terrence Howard at this year's Sundance Film Festival 
(Fred Hayes/Wirelmage.com) 



Contents 



Upfront 



Features 



5 EDITOR'S LETTER 

6 CONTRIBUTORS 

8 MEMBERS IN THE NEWS 

9 NEWS 

New cable station caters to 18-34-year-olds; Lake 
Placid Film Festival is put on hold; filmmaker fails 
to sell website domain on eBay 
By Amy Thomas 

1 3 UTILIZE IT 

Tools and news you can use 
By David Aim 

14 FIRST PERSON 

A film publicist debunks industry myths 
By Jessica Edwards 

17 DOC DOCTOR 

Reclaiming a beginner's self-confidence; 
experimental techniques for serious content? 
By Fernanda Rossi 

19 PROFILE 

Michael Kang and his new film The Motel 
By PJ Gach and Rick Harrison 

22 FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 

Reflections from the hi/lo Film Festival founder 
By Marc Vogl 

26 Q/A 

Terrence Howard's indie acting success, including 
this year's Sundance darling Hustle & Flow 
By Rebecca Carroll 

32 ON THE SCENE 

Elvis Mitchell guest curates the IFP/LA 
By Rick Harrison 



36 CHANGES AT IFP WEST 

Speculations send shivers throughout the industry 
By Elizabeth Angell 

40 WHAT A LONG FREAKY HEAD-TRIP 
IT'S BEEN 

Bradley Beesley documents The Flaming Lips in 
The Fearless Freaks 
By Nick Schager 

44 PORTLAND'S CREATIVE CLASS 

Behind the scenes at PDX 
By Brian Libby 

48 PARTICIPANT PRODUCTIONS 

An eBay billionaire believes humanist 
films can sell 

By Fiona Ng 

52 BOOKS 

Roger Corman's how-to is an unusual manual for 
tomorrow's filmmakers 
By Lisa Selin Davis 

Listings 

54 FESTIVALS 
60 CLASSIFIEDS 
63 NOTICES 
65 WORK WANTED 

70 SALONS 

71 THANKS 

72 THE LIST 



www.aivf.org 



June 2005 I The Independent 3 




Combine work in 
with fiction, 
poetry or playwriting in our unique 
interdisciplinary MFA degree program. 
Students are fully funded by 
annual fellowships of$l 7,500. 

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RECENT GUEST SCREENWRITERS 

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THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN 




"National exposure, viewer feedback, cachet in film circles, and. 

yes, money that can help pay off production costs are some of 

the benefits of having a film selected by TV's longest-running 

nonfiction film series." -Bill Keveney, USA Today 



P.O.V. Announces 

Season 19 Open Call For Entries and 

The Diverse Voices Project II 

Diverse Voices Project is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting a private nonprofit corporation funded by the American people. 
NEW ONLINE SUBMISSION PROCESS 



Apply online! 

Please visit us at 

www.pbs.org/pov/callforentries 

to apply. 

Questions? 

Call P.O.V. at 
1-800-756-3300 ext. 380 



Call For Entries: P.O.V.. public television's premiere showcase for independent 

non-fiction film seeks submissions from all perspectives to showcase in annual 

PBS series. P.O.V. welcomes all subjects, styles and lengths. Unfinished films 

may be eligible for completion funds. Open Call guidelines are available for 

review at www.pbs.org/pov/forproducers 

The Diverse Voices Project II. with up to $80,000 in coproduction funding 
available to emerging filmmakers, is P.O.V.'s initiative to support stories about 
diverse communities* produced by emerging makers. Guidelines for applying to 

the Diverse Voices Project II are available for review at www pbs.org/pov/dvp 

"Please visit the P.O.V. website for eligibility requirements. 



The submission deadline for the 2006 Season and DVP II is July 1, 2005 



THE 

in 




ent 



Publisher: Bienvenida Matias 

[publisher@aivf.org] 

Editor-in-Chief: Rebecca Carroll 

(editor@aivf.org) 

Managing Editor: Shana Liebman 

[independent@aivf.org] 

Assistant Editor: Rick Harrison 

[fact@aivf.org] 

Designer: R. Benjamin Brown 

[benbrowngraphic@msn.com] 

Production Associate: Timothy Schmidt 

[graphics@aivf org] 

Editorial Associate: Lindsay Gelfand 

[notices@aivf.org] 

Contributing Editors: 

Sherman Alexie, David Aim, Pat Aufderheide, 

Monique Cormier, Bo Mehrad, Cara Merles, Kate Turtle 

Contributing Writers: 

Elizabeth Angel I, Margaret Coble, Lisa Selin Davis, 

Matt Dunne, Gadi Harel, Rick Harrison 

Advertising Representative: Veronica Shea 

(212) 807-1400 x232. [veronica@aivf org] 

Advertising Representative: Michael Tierno 

(212) 807-1400 x234: [mike@aivf.org] 

Classified Advertising: Michael Tierno 

(212) 807-1400 x241; [classifieds@aivf.org] 

• 

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POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: 

The Independent 
304 Hudson St., 6 ft., New York, NY 10013 

77ie Independent (ISSN 1077-8918) is published monthly (except 
combined issues January/February and July/August) by the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film (FIVF), a 501(c)(3) 
dedicated to the advancement of media arts and artists. 
Subscription to the magazine is included in annual membership 
dues (S70/yr individual: $40/yr student: $200/yr nonprofit/school: 
S200-700/yr business/industry) paid to the Association of 
Independent Video and Filmmakers lAIVFl, the national profes- 
sional association of individuals involved in moving image media. 
Library subscriptions are $75/yr. Contact: AIVF. 304 Hudson St, 
6 ft, New York, NY 10013, (2121 807-1400: fax: (212) 463-8519: 
info@aivf.org. 

Periodical Postape paid at New York, New York 
and at additional mailing offices. 

Printed in the USA by Cadmus Specialty Publications 



Publication of The Independent is made possible 

^£ in part with public funds from the New York State Council 

::;,::,•.: °n the Arts, a state agency, and the National Endowment 
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Publication of any ad in The Independent does not constitute an 
endorsement AIVF/FIVF are not responsible for any claims made in 
an ad. All contents are copyright of the Foundation for Independent 
Video and Film, Inc. Reprints require written permission and acknowl- 
edgement of the article's previous appearance in The Independent 
The Independent is indexed in the Alternative Press Index and is a 
member of the Independent Press Association 

AIVF/FIVF staff: Bienvenida Matias, executive director; 
Soma Malta, program director, Priscilla Grim, membership director: 
Bo Mehrad, information services director, Greg Gilpatrick, 
technology consultant, Gerry Edouard, Karen Odom, Joseph Trawick- 
Smith, Miriam Wallen, interns; AIVF/FIVF legal counsel: Robert I. 
Freedman, Esq., Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard. 

AIVF Board of Directors Joel Bachar, Paula Manley (Secretary), 
Bienvenida Matias (ex oficiol. Michele Meek, Simon Tarr 
(Chair/Treasurer), Elizabeth Thompson (President), Bart Weiss. 

© Foundation for Independent Video & Film, Inc. 2005 
Visit The Independent online at: www.aivf.org 



^dent I June 2005 




EDITOR'S LETTER 

Dear Readers, 

I got married in April. Leading up to 
the wedding on April 23, after a consid- 
erable amount of feigned indifference in 
getting our announcement into The New 
York Times Style section (solely on my 
part — everyone else, my husband and 
parents included, was genuinely disinter- 
ested), I decided to submit our informa- 
tion for consideration. To be perfectly 
honest, I couldn't imagine they wouldn't 
call us immediately upon receipt of it — 
it's a great story that includes, among 
other distinctively New York-ish details, 
my fiance and I meeting on a subway 
platform. 

The call from the "Vows" editor 
involved some questions. Like: Was my 
uncle who officiated the ceremony an 
ordained minister or had he received spe- 
cial privileges to conduct the ceremony? 
Well, actually, I told him, my fiance and 
I got legally married at City Hall a few 
weeks before and this is just the wedding 
part — no one else knows, though, so it's 
like the real thing. "Oh, no," the editor 
said, with what I could 've sworn was con- 
tempt. "Yeah, no, we don't do that." He 
proceeded to tell me in curt and explicit 
terms that under no circumstances did 
The New York Times publish wedding 
announcements on or about any other 
day but the official wedding date. "But 
it's a great story." I thought — somewhat 
feverishly. 

This is probably how many of you feel 
when you don't get into Sundance, or 
another of the higher profile festivals — 
you don't want to want it as much as you 
do, but you do (in fact, quite often there's 
a clear-minded assumption on your part 



that you will get in). And then if you 
don't get in, you immediately get right- 
eous as hell about your film being the 
best film on the planet and absolutely 
custom made for that particular festival. I 
think this feeling, this knee jerk reaction, 
is especially true for artists or those who 
perhaps fancy themselves somewhat 
above, beyond, or over mainstream con- 
ventions. Luckily, in the end, there are 
many outlets and people out there that 
will still have you — that will allow you 
your personal outbursts and self-impor- 
tant theories on what makes a great story, 
great film, and great art. 

Places like the hi/lo film festival in San 
Francisco, for which the programmers 
"strive to put films before audiences that 
illustrate how liberating a small budget 
can be" (page 22); Peripheral Produce 
and its annual Portland Documentary 
and Experimental Film Festival (page 
44); and of course, the many and varied 
service organizations spread across the 
country with the singular intent to help 
you do what you need and want to do in 
the best and most creative way possible — 
AIVF among them, and by extension, 
this magazine (page 36). There are people 
like Bradley Beasley, whose documentary 
as love letter to the magnificent alt-rock 
band The Flaming Lips, The Fearless 
Freaks, is gorgeously inspired (page 40). 
And believe it or not, the eBay guy Jeff 
Skoll, who while new to the film industry 
is not so bid-driven that he can't appreci- 
ate that "the world of independent film is 
a little bit freer of that kind of commer- 
cial, mass-market influence that guides so 
many studios" (page 48). 

Also in this issue, On the Scene with 
Elvis Mitchell (page 32), who I'm always 
happy to see at various festivals and 
industry events, and who is busy these 
days with a new development gig at 
Columbia Pictures and guest curating the 
LA Film Festival this month. 

Enjoy, and thanks for reading 
The Independent, 
Rebecca Carroll 



Reliable, 
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* Including regular and special issues 



June 2005 I The Independent 5 




Jessica Edwards 



DAVID ALM teaches film 
history and writing at two colleges in 
Chicago. His writing has appeared in 
Arbyte, Camerawork, RES, Silicon Alley 
Reporter, SOMA, and the The Utne Reader. 
He's also contributed to books on web 
design and digital filmmaking and assisted 
in making documentaries about architec- 
ture and garbage. 

ELIZABETH ANGELL is a freelance 
writer living in New York. She recently 
received an MFA in creative writing from 
Columbia and is at work on her first 
book. 

LISA SELIN DAVIS is the author of 
the novel, Belly, which is forthcoming 
from Little, Brown & Co., and a free- 
lance writer in New York. 




PJ GACH is a New York City-based 
freelance writer. Her media clients include 
The New York Post, Ingenue Magazine, 
RollingStone.com, and UGO.com. 

JESSICA EDWARDS is a press agent 
for film and television projects at Murphy 
Public Relations in New York. She has 
been a production manager, assistant 
director, and editor, and co-produces the 
Canadian leg of Resfest in her native 
Toronto. She graduated with a BFA in 
filmmaking from Concordia University in 
Montreal, and currently lives in Brooklyn 
where she aims to dissolve the publicist 
stereotype, one journalist at a time. 

RICK HARRISON is an assistant 
editor at The Independent. He has a mas- 
ter's degree in journalism from New York 
University and his work has appeared in 
Newsday, The Forward, The Daily News, 
Our Town and The West Side Spirit. His 
more mindless musings can be read at: 
www.rollingbones.blogspot.com. 




Nick Schrager 



Hependent I June 2005 



JB UTORS 




Brian Libby 

BRIAN LIBBY is a Portland-based 
freelance journalist, film critic, and pho- 
tographer whose writing has appeared in 
The New York Times, Premiere, Salon, 
Christian Science Monitor, Willamette 
Week and other publications. His work 
can be found at www.brianlibby.com. 



FIONA NG lives in Brooklyn. She's 
written for The Los Angeles Times, Black 
Book, Bust, RES, and other publications. 




Amy Thomas 



FERNANDA ROSSI, known as the 
Documentary Doctor, is a filmmaker and 
story consultant who helps filmmakers 
craft the story structure of their films in all 
stages of the filmmaking process. She has 
doctored over 100 documentaries and 
fiction scripts and is the author of Trailer 
Mechanics: A Guide to Making your 
Documentary Fundraising Trailer. For 
more information: www.documentary 
doctor.com. 



NICK SCFIAGER is a freelance jour- 
nalist and film critic whose writing has 
appeared in The Village Voice, Complex 
magazine, Slant magazine, and other 
print and online publications. He 
recently received a master's degree in 
journalism from Columbia University, 
and his work can be found at 
www.nickschager.com. 



AMY THOMAS is now happy to call 
herself a contributor to The Independent. 
Her writing has also appeared in CITY, 
Weddinghells, Time Out New York, Lucky 
and several other publications, as well 
as on her website, www.modgirl.com. 



MARC VOGL is director of the hi/lo 
Film Festival and executive director of 
The Lobster Theater Project, a nonprofit 
arts organization creating new work for 
the stage and screen in San Francisco. He 
also makes short films and puts on live 
shows with the comedy group Killing My 
Lobster. Have a look to see how busy he 
is: www.hilofilmfestival.com, and 
www.killingmylobster.com. 




Marc Vogl 



June 2005 I The Independent 7 



members 

in the news 



John Long 

Torrington, CT 

Member since: January 2005 

John Long's video documentary Pursuit of Precision had its 
broadcast premiere on Connecticut public television in 
January 2005. The film will stay in the station's broadcast 
cycle for two years. 

Annetta Marion 

New York, NY 

Member since: 1997 

Annetta Marion has been accepted into the American Film 
Institute's Directing Workshop for Women in Los Angeles, 
where she will work on her short film, Alaska. 



Vivian Kleiman 

Berkeley, CA 

Member since: 1995 

Vivian Kleiman served as senior producer and series direc- 
tor on "The Meaning of Food," a 3-part documentary series 
produced in association with Oregon Public Broadcasting 
and aired nationally on PBS in April 2005. A companion 
book to the series was published by Globe Pequot. 



Jem Cohen 

Brooklyn, NY 

Member since: 1988 

Jem Cohen received the 2005 Independent Spirit Award as 
"Turning Leaf's Someone to Watch" for his film Chain, 
which opened the Images Festival in Toronto this past April. 



Carol Strickland 

New York, NY 

Member since: 2001 

Carol Strickland's romantic-comedy screenplay Double or 
Nothing won first prize in the Hollywood Scriptwriting 
Institute's March contest. 



Dakkan Abbe 

Brooklyn, NY 

Member since: 2003 

Dakkan Abbe served as producer, director, DP, writer, and 
editor for a six-part documentary travel series called "Inside 
the Tuscan Hills," which was distributed by PBS and has 
been broadcast on their local stations nationwide since 
winter 2005. 



Danielle Beverly 

New York, NY 

Member since: 2003 

Danielle Beverly's first feature documentary Learning to 
Swallow, edited by former board member Kyle Henry, will 
have its world premiere in competition at the Silverdocs 
AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Film Festival this 
month. Beverly was also selected as an IFP/NY Project 
Involve Honoree this spring, and was the recipient of an 
SCETV Professional Development Fellowship for travel to 
INPUT, the international public television conference held 
in San Francisco. 



Crista Giuliani 

Brooklyn, NY 

Member since: 1998 

Crista Giuliani secured Omni Film Distribution as a sales 
agent for her short film Valentine's Day. Omni will be repre- 
senting the film internationally, most recently at the 2005 
Cannes Film Festival. 



Ralph Arlyck 

Poughkeepsie, New York 
Member since: The Beginning (circa 1970) 
Following Sean, a documentary feature by Ralph Arlyck, 
will be screened at the Munich and Karlovy Vary Film 
Festivals late this month and early July. The film received a 
Special Jury Prize at the Hamptons International Film 
Festival last fall and has been an official selection at 
Rotterdam, Full Frame, and the Cinema du Reel in Paris. 



8 The Independent I June 2005 



www.aivf.org 



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NEWS 




Staying Current 

A future generation of television 



M 



By Amy Thomas 

ost people still get a chuckle 
out of Al Gore's 1999 claim to 
having "invented" the internet. 
Although his words were taken out of 
context — indeed, he was misquoted — 
the reference has haunted him ever since. 
But perhaps his next dalliance into revo- 
lutionary technology will leave the heck- 
lers eating crow. This August he and 
entrepreneur Joel Hyatt are launching 
Current, the first national cable network 
devoted to and created by an 18 to 34- 
year-old audience. 



"Young adults have a powerful voice, 
but you can't hear that voice on televi- 
sion... yet," said Gore, who will serve as 
the nascent network's chairman. "We 
intend to change that with Current, giv- 
ing those who crave the empowerment of 
the web the same opportunity for expres- 
sion on television." 

Although Gore brings a big name and, 
therefore, more recognition and credibil- 
ity to the endeavor, it's the network itself 
that's most intriguing. Current will offer 
around-the-clock programming that 



caters to younger generations appetite 
for bite-sized content. Like a cross 
between a TV blog and an iPod on shuf- 
fle, it will have short-format program- 
ming that covers everything from tech- 
nology and the environment to fashion 
and music in 15-second to five-minute 
"pod" segments. Slated pods include, 
among others, Current Gigs which will 
offer career guidance and insight; 
Current Parent aimed at first-time moms 
and dads; and Current Soul which tracks 
trends in spirituality. 

June 2005 I The Independent 9 



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More than the clever easy-to-digest 
programming, Current will be revolu- 
tionary in that it's interactive, with the 
audience contributing to and shaping the 
content. "Until now, the notion of view- 
er participation has been limited to send- 
ing a tape to America's Funniest Home 
Videos,' calling an interview show, taking 
part in an instant poll, or voting someone 
off an island," Gore said. "We're creating 
a powerful new brand of television that 
doesn't treat audiences as merely viewers, 
but as collaborators." 

Viewers will be able to upload their 
own segments through the Current 
Studio on the network's website, 
www.current.tv. They are specifically 
hoping to draw submissions for pods 
such as the creative Current Video which 
is meant to discover the next Spike Jonze 
and the more indulgent, free-form 
Current Rant, which invites viewers to go 
off on a particular topic. To facilitate 
viewer participation, Current will offer a 
comprehensive online training program 
that's developed by bright, young 
creatives who are experts in storytelling, 
shooting, and editing. With their online 
training program, the network hopes to 
cultivate a coterie of acclaimed Current 
Journalists (CJs) and, conceivably, a 
whole new generation of TV personali- 
ties. 

To jumpstart content and encourage 
contributors, the network held a contest 
from April 1 1 to May 12, soliciting video 
submissions in three categories: Current 
Gigs, Current Fashion, and Current Soul. 
After the network chose five semi-final- 
ists, registered users of the web site were 
able to vote on the winner, who received 
a development deal to produce three 
short segments after Current launches. 

Beyond its progressive programming 
and training, Current is demonstrating 
how internet-sawy it is with smart asso- 
ciations. The network is partnering with 
uber search site Google to get its twice- 
an-hour news updates. Titled Google 
Current, these pods will feature the latest 
Google search data as news updates. In 
other words, instead of big corporations 
deciding what's news and feeding it to the 
audience, they're opting for a more 
democratic approach informed by what 
the world at large has on their minds. 



Google is quite excited by Current's 
vision. Larry Page, Google's co-founder 
and president of products said, "Current 
is an exciting new direction for TV 
programming that enables any viewer to 
have the opportunity to broadcast their 
video to the world." 

Current laid its foundation last May 
when Gore, Hyatt, and company 
founders acquired Newsworld Intern- 
ational, a 24-hour global news channel 
produced by The Canadian Broadcasting 
Corporation, for $70 million. With that 
purchase, Current got NWTs reach into 
nearly 20 million households, and with 
private financing it will continue build- 
ing on that base. 

Naturally, the Current team will be 
young and multicultural, delivering their 
hip take on the news, current events, and 
pop culture in a club-like atmosphere. 
While Current could lace a challenge 
drawing its audience from other tried- 
and-true networks like Viacom-owned 
MTV and VH-1, their short-form 
programming and viewer contributions 
could also be a big hit. Since shows such 
as Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" 
are favorites among this age group, 
Current's personality and structure 
should strike a chord with the audience. 
And, following reality TV, Hollywood 
movies, and prime time sitcoms, Current 
plans to work with advertisers to create 
alternative branding and advertising 
methods in lieu of 30-second television 
commercials which, for better or worse, 
are what this TiVo generation is used to. 



Lake Placid on Hold 

The federal government isn't the only 
sector that's running into budgeting 
boondoggles as of late. The Adirondack 
Film Society announced that the Lake 
Placid Film Festival will take a one 
year hiatus in order to run a more finan- 
cially sound enterprise. "There's only two 
ways to do things: the right way and the 
wrong way, and we wanted to do it 
the right way," said board chairman 
Nelson Page of their decision to scuttle 
the annual event. 

In the five years since it launched, 
the Lake Placid Film Festival — originally 
known as the Lake Placid Film Forum — 



10 The Independent I June 2005 




Patricia Clarkson with directors Alan Rudolph 
and Larry Clark at the 2003 Lake Placid Film 
Festival (Ben Stechshulte) 



has earned a reputation among filmmak- 
ers and film lovers as a uniquely intimate 
event. Each June, it has brought profes- 
sionals and fans alike to the picturesque 
New York town in the Adirondack 
Mountains. In addition to screening 
dozens of films, shorts, and documen- 
taries, it has held forums, panels, classes 
and readings of screenplays. Respected 
industry members like actor Campbell 
Scott, documentary filmmaker Albert 
Maysles, and director Mira Nair have 
taught some of the classes in the past. 
Other festival guests have included Milos 
Forman, Debra Winger, Patricia Clark- 
son, Larry Clark, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, 
William Kennedy, and Elmore Leonard. 
And the LPFF has honored distinguished 
filmmakers with lifetime achievement 
awards, including Martin Scorsese last 
year. But it all comes with a price, and 
there just wasn't enough money in the 
coffers to pay this year. 

"We were operating behind the budg- 
eting 8-ball," Page said, citing the festi- 
val's date as one obstacle. The organizers 
were finding that once the five-day 
festival wrapped in June, it was difficult 
to turn around in the slow summer 
months and start securing financing for 
the following year. Then there's the issue 
of a growing number of film festivals 
cropping up in New York and all over the 
country. While they provide great oppor- 
tunities for filmmakers and exciting 
events for the viewers, they also eat away 
at established festivals' sources of interest 



and income. "There's only so many spon- 
sors and state money," Page said. While 
the LPFF could conceivably be more 
aggressive about securing sponsorships — 
Kodak, Amtrak, and GM have been 
sponsors in the past — they will more like- 
ly change the event's date in 2006. 

But certain other things will remain 
the same. The organizers are adamant 
about keeping the quality and reputation 
of the event and have no plans to change 
the programming, reduce the number of 
days and movies, or to cut staff. "Better 
to take a year off and go forward with 
more security," is how Page describes 
their plan to be smart and proactive 
instead of being blindly optimistic and 
losing money. 

In the meantime, The Adirondack 
Film Society will host a number of special 
screenings and programs in Lake Placid 
throughout the year. Artistic Director 
Kathleen Carroll, who founded the 
festival with Naj Wikoff and novelist 
Russell Banks said, "We are extremely 
grateful to all of you and we hope for 
your continued support of our plans to 
present a reinvigorated film festival in the 
near future." 



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filmmaker Mark Estabrook might draw. 
On April 6, he offered the domain name 
digitalmovie.com on eBay with a starting 
bid price of SI. 5 million and a "Buy 
Now" option of $3 million. By the time 
the auction closed on April 15, there had 
been no bidders. 

"We are definitely in the digital movie 
age, and I felt like the name had reached 
a point where the entertainment industry 
would know what to do with it," 
Estabrook said in a press release. In 1998 
Estabrook acquired the name by trading 
it for a digital movie camera. He believes 
that in the seven years since then, 
advancements in encryption technology 
that make the downloading of movies 
possible at much faster rates also 
make the URL a must-have for "enter- 
tainment giants" like Sony, Warner and 
others. Estabrook also cited advances in 
technology and storage capacities and the 
increasing usage of pay-on-demand and 
DVD kiosks as indications of a growing 
demand for and interest in digital 
moviemaking. 

His eBay pitch: "Enough said. The 
name speaks for itself. The starting bid is 
SI, 500,000.00... less than a small house 
in Southern California!" Up for stakes in 
the auction was the registration rights of 
digitalmovie.com — and as a "bonus" 
Estabrook added the .net, .org, and .us 
extensions as well. Banking on a strong 
movement toward the digital moviemak- 
ing arena that would make his URL irre- 
sistible to head Hollywood honchos, 
Estabrook emphasized his belief in its 



value. Or, as he simply stated, "The 
future of entertainment is digital." 

Estabrook did not develop digital- 
movie. com into a downloading site him- 
self because of the need for high amounts 
of broadband. "I really hate to let it go, as 
I studied filmmaking in college, but the 
money I estimate this name is worth 
would make an awesome digital movie." 
Estabrook believes the entertainment 
industry is the only group capable of 
developing the capital and infrastructure 
to support digitalmovie.com. In fact, 
after the eBay auction ended, Estabrook 
posted the domain name on sedo.com, a 
site that specifically sells URLs, with the 
following directions: "Please do not place 
an offer on this name unless you have 
movie industry level funding. Seller will 
not respond to offers less than 
51,000,000 U.S." 

Estabrook, who is currently working 
on a documentary about the late astro- 
naut Gus Grissom, couldn't be reached 
for comment after the eBay auction clos- 
ing. But one could assume the Tennessee- 
based filmmaker remains hopeful. 
Estabrook's eBay description said: 
"Should this auction end without a 
buyer, be advised any future offers of this 
domain name by seller will include a roy- 
alty clause per transaction. That's right, 
the price is going up, not down. This is 
your company's last chance to obtain 
DIGITALMOVIE.COM at reduced 
cost! Think of it, billions of downloads 
are just waiting..." •& 



12 The Independent I June 2005 



UTILIZE IT 



Tools You Can Use 



By David Aim 




Sundance's new online resource for festival 
updates and news (Sundance Film Institute) 

Sundance.com 

Expanding its reach to become as 
much a virtual destination tor indie film- 
makers as a physical one, the Sundance 
Film Institute launched an online 
resource early this year, providing up-to- 
the-minute information on the festival's 
member film companies, the films it has 
screened, and general news. The site pro- 
vides details on companies and their con- 
tacts, film entries with brief synopses and 
stats on their creative teams, and a news 
section that covers everything else. 
www.sundance.org/source. 

Could PCs Become the 
New Macs? 

It's no surprise that DV professionals 
prefer Macs to PCs — they're more visual- 
ly sophisticated and friendlier to pro- 
grams like Photoshop and Final Cut Pro. 
But one pro- Windows software company 
wants to change that. This spring Kaolay, 
a new software development firm in 
Alba, Italy, introduced Ultradesk v. 1 . 1 , a 
virtual desktop manager that allows 
Windows users to maintain multiple 
desktops at once. Currently available in 
Beta for free, single licenses of the soft- 
ware will soon hit the market for just 




(LitePanels, Inc. 



$19.95. And whether or not Ultradesk 
can actually lure hardcore Mac-boosters 
into the cult of Gates remains to be seen, 
but the software does provide tempting 
bait, www.kaolay.com. 

After Dark 

Add a little noir to your next cinema 
verite project with the new infrared LED 
lighting system from LitePanels, Inc, a 
Hollywood-based hardware company. 
Measuring just 6.75"x2.25" x 1.25" 
and weighing 
9.6 ounces, 
these little 
panels allow for 
shooting in total 
darkness and in 
extreme low-light 
situations. They can 
be mounted on cam- 
eras, stands, or any tight spot in which 
you might wish to shoot. Moreover, they 
can be powered by a variety of 1 0— 30-volt 
sources, including an AC adapter, camera 
battery, or battery pack. At $700 per, the 
new panels might not attract the next 
Jean Rouch just yet, but it's good to see 
that the late French anthropologist-cum- 
documentarian and pioneer of cinema 
verite's legacy lives on. 
www.litepanels.com. 

Handheld Grace 

_Not everyone who shoots with a 
lightweight, handheld DV camera 
wants to emulate Lars Von Trier. 
Those who desire smooth takes 
might consider the new Chroszie 
Twister DV, from Burbank-based 
filmmaking outfitters 16x9 Inc. 
This lightweight stabilizing 
apparatus consists of two 
handles that attach to your 
camera's central mounting plate, 
allowing the camera to pivot between 
the two handgrips on the system's rotary 



axle. Operating on the principle that 
humans naturally move in a steady, level 
manner when carrying objects, the cre- 
ators of the Chrosziel Twister DV 
designed the device to distribute a 
camera's weight between a user's two 
hands, allowing for both spontaneity and 
grace under virtually any condition. In 
this case, however, grace has a price: Each 
device costs $1,695. www. l6x9inc.com-& 







June 2005 I The Independent 13 



FIRST PERSON 




Behind the Spin 

What do film publicists actually do? 
An expert exposes the truth 



By Jessica Edwards, publicist at Murphy PR 



There is a mystique to filmmaking — the 
silvery light that reflects off the screen, 
the way the story shapes a characters 
whole life in two hours and how that life 
can then resonate so deeply with an audi- 
ence. The myth of filmmaking is what 
makes it such a powerful medium. But 
more and more, art and independent film 
have dovetailed with the contemporary 
commercial demands of the medium. 



Except for ad buys, it is woefully diffi- 
cult to guarantee that an independent 
film will receive any attention in the 
press, not to mention from the general 
public, because independent films have 



few of the resources — or overtly commer- 
cial instincts — that studios use to track 
and shape their product. The result on 
the festival circuit, where most of these 
films are seen for the first time, is often 
perceived as a complex web of press 
agents serving as promotion consultants 
to neophyte filmmakers and producers, 
which may explain why the world of 
publicity is so shrouded in stereotype. Or 
maybe it is due to a serious misunder- 
standing over what a publicist, like 
myself, does and why. 

Even with all its recent expansion, the 
Austin-based SXSW Film Festival still 
represents an authentic taste of the inde- 
pendent film world. There is a large com- 



munity presence and a real support from 
local Austinites, bolstered by a small 
industry attendance that doesn't create a 
suffocating environment to new film- 
makers trying to get some feedback on 
their projects. There is great opportunity 
at this festival to access all types of infor- 
mation to further their understanding of 
the art and market of the medium. I had 
hoped when I attended SXSW earlier this 
year that one of its panel offerings, "Meet 
the Film Press," would provide filmmak- 
ers with some real information about 
how to get your film noticed by journal- 
ists. And for my part, it only makes sense 
for a publicist to attend a panel of film 
reporters discussing what they do to help 



14 The Independent I June 2005 



better understand what drives the people 
we need to access. 

In the Austin Convention Center 
where the festival was headquartered, the 
panels were held in divided rooms with 
your typical rows of chairs and a long dais 
at the front. The room for this particular 
panel was significantly full and when 
polled, the audience was about three 
quarters filmmakers. The six media pan- 
elists (which included Rebecca Carroll, 
the editor of this magazine) represented a 
fair cross section of mainstream, inde- 
pendent, and industry media, and the 
conversation very quickly turned its focus 
to press materials and the demerits of 
glossy packages versus phone calls and 
email pitches. It became apparent to me 
that the panel wasn't going to be an 
opportunity for filmmakers to hear about 
how important it is to know the outlet 
they are approaching, what the difference 
is between a review and a feature, and 
what realistically they can expect in terms 
of any kind of coverage at all. 

What could have been an informative 
dialogue about how to navigate the broad 
and mysterious world of film marketing 
and promotion turned into somewhat of 



a bash session — only one journalist on 
the entire panel suggested that a publicist 
might actually be helpful for a filmmaker 
looking to get their film noticed. 
Panelists seemed to largely agree that it is 
unnecessary to have a publicist at all if 
you are a first-time filmmaker, because 
you can do all the outreach yourself. 
Which to be fair is not impossible, but 
does require a certain amount of research 
in order to learn who and how to pitch, 
what elements of film an outlet covers, 
and the skills and virtues of persistent fol- 
low-up. Had this been suggested during 
the panel, I would have felt better about 
the whole thing, but sadly, what came 
across more than anything else was that 
journalists don't like to be called by pub- 
licists at 7:30 a.m. How does this help a 
filmmaker better understand the film 
media world? A 7:30 a.m. call may be 
annoying and unprofessional, but that 
really boils down to a topic more suited 
for discussion around a water cooler. 
Why not discuss what to look for in a 
press agent — why some are bad and oth- 
ers have succeeded? In retrospect, it may 
have been beneficial to raise my hand and 
pose this question to the panel, but it 




Edwards was working on Stagedoor when it had its world premiere at SXSW 
(courtesy of Jessica Edwards) 



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wasn't the time or place to air grievances 
or attempt to re-educate. Although, I 
have often thought that the myth of 
publicity would make a good panel all on 
its own. 

Film pros on panels like this one rarely 
realize that their audience is mostly made 
up of rookies — people seeking the most 
basic information, not film game insider 
gripes. For better or worse, at some point 
these filmmakers will need a professional 
to guide them through the treacherous 
waters of the festival world, and they 
could have come away from this SXSW 
panel armed with some knowledge in 
determining who that professional — 
agency or rep — might be. Instead, I fear 
that most came away with the notion 
that press agents are unnecessary, which 
only furthers the stereotype and contin- 
ues the trend that there is no separation 
within agent vocation. In other words, all 
press agents are just annoying, overzeal- 
ous spin-doctors — not an integral part of 
the indie film landscape. 

Ultimately, 1 left the panel feeling that 
there needs to be a reevaluation of the 
role of publicist, because right now it is 
still a misconstrued function in the film 
business clouded with Lizzie Grubman- 
esque stereotypes that are perpetuated by 
highly coiffed door girls in Manolo 
Blahnik's. For someone like myself, with 
a real passion for the medium, fighting 
this stereotype is often an uphill battle. 
Maybe if there were to be an explanation 
of what it means to be a press agent and 
how that role is integrated into the larger 
machine of film marketing the stereotype 
could be altered. 

First, distinguishing the difference 
between independent project-based pub- 
licity and the personal publicist is crucial. 
When big movie stars get hounded about 
their personal lives, one can argue the 
necessity and virtues of hiring a represen- 
tative to fend off the press. But in the 
world of independent film, this isn't real- 
ly the case. So few independent films get 
any consideration at all — niche nor 



mainstream — never mind the actors in 
the film, that by default an independent 
publicist becomes the film's advocate and 
a conduit to the media. Essentially, it's 
the role of an informer: "Here is this film. 
You may like it because of these reasons. 
Maybe your readers/viewers/listeners 
would be interested in it because of these 
other reasons. Would you consider 
checking it out?" And then it's up to 
the journalist to make a connection to 
the film. 

An independent publicist can be 
especially helpful at a film festival, where 
there are upwards of 200 films for the 
attending media to consider. And a good 
publicist is someone who connects with 
a project, seeks out the film's strong 
identifiers, and hones that message so 
that the film's back-story is an understat- 
ed part of the film viewing experience. 
And yes, the day-to-day calling and 
emailing and pitching and inviting and 
confirming may be annoying to a jour- 
nalist who is hearing from several differ- 
ent people about several different films 
on any given day, but there is also a 
remedy to this. If a journalist is not inter- 
ested in the project being pitched, they 
can always say no. Any publicist with an 
ounce of self-respect will back off and try 
a different section of the publication or a 
different writer who may better connect 
with the project. There is a certain art to 
pitching, and knowing the outlet and 
subtle tastes of individual writers and 
critics is a good portion of the job. This 
requires research and dedication. 

The current festival landscape is a hard 
one to navigate and can very easily be 
overwhelming for a first-time filmmaker. 
A publicist can help by steering the film 
towards the media and acting as its escort 
and champion. Amid all the conflicting 
ideas and perceptions about publicists, it 
is still important to remember that they 
are your first line of offense to the media 
and are a crucial resource in gaining the 
largest possible audience for your film. ~k 



16 The Independent I June 2005 




the Documentary Doctor 



By Fernanda Rossi 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

When I was still starting out as a film- 
maker, I made lots of mistakes but my 
work was innovative. Now that I have 
more experience, I find myself self-cen- 
soring my work to the point where I'm 
paralyzed. How do I go back to being an 
innovative beginner? 

Self-censorship grows slowly over time, 
and while beginners struggle to learn how 
to navigate the film business, more 
experienced filmmakers who are all too 
aware of what works aren't inclined to take 
as many risks. The irony of this situation is 
that most if not all documentaries have un- 
rated theatrical releases, yet filmmakers 
develop their own internal committee of 
censors anyway. 

And how much are networks and cable 
to blame for a filmmaker's acquired self- 
restriction? Vanessa Arteaga, senior pro- 
gramming and production executive of 
Wellspring Media, a leading New York- 
based independent distribution company, 
says: "Networks and cable, both domestic 
and international, have varying degrees of 
regulations regarding language, nudity, 
violence, subject matter, etc. — enough to 
make any filmmaker's head spin. That said, 
filmmakers would severely compromise 
their films if they design them to fit a cook- 
ie-cutter, made-for-TV construct simply 
out of the idea that it may be the only way 
for their films to be seen by the world. 
Filmmakers should strive to create a film 
that is of theatrical caliber. The broadcast- 




ers will deal with the modifications that 
need to be made to the film to fit their 
standards if there is a strong desire for the 
title." 

But if you feel strongly that only one 
venue is possible for your film, by all 
means, make sure your documentary is not 
in direct opposition to that venue's regula- 
tions. Arteaga adds: "Assume nothing. 
What a filmmaker might think is too con- 
troversial or won't be accepted by anybody, 
may be the very reason why there would be 
interest in pursuing the film to begin 
with." 

So if outside limits are somewhat nego- 
tiable, why are you and other filmmakers 
still wary of crossing the line? Interestingly 
enough, positive experiences play a role 
here. As you accumulate awards and stand- 
ing ovations, you develop a positive associ- 
ation to your film, the response it received, 



and how that response made you feel. And 
who wouldn't want that again and again? 
Self-censorship is caused as much by inter- 
nalized convention and restrictions as it is 
by compulsion to repeat pleasant fulfilling 
experiences. 

Spend time dispelling those imaginary 
outside demons and internalized no-no's, 
but spend more time neutralizing praise 
and recognition. Accomplishments are 
great for your self-esteem and to help you 
raise funds for future films, but they are 
deadly when you want to try new things. 
Remember that audiences responded to 
your previous work, and new audiences 
will respond to your future work. And in 
the remote event that absolutely nobody 
watches or likes your new risque docu- 
mentary, your previous films with its many 
awards won't evaporate. Your talent 
remains regardless of how your work is per- 
ceived. Make another film. 

Dear Doc Doctor: 

I have an experimental film back- 
ground, but I'm now making a social 
issue documentary. Will my film lose 
credibility if I use experimental tech- 
niques to convey a very serious topic? 

Format and content — format or con- 
tent. Painters, musicians, and writers are 
free to play with form. Their days of duti- 
fully representing reality are far behind. 
Documentary filmmakers are in the midst 
of this dilemma and more so now that doc- 
umentaries are going mainstream. 



June 2005 I The Independent 17 




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Your current dilemma can find origins 
with the first film ever made — a short 
piece by Lumiere featuring a train pulling 
into the station that had everybody in the 
audience running for their lives. They 
believed that what they saw was real and 
that it was happening at that very 
moment. 

Later on, we became aware that what 
we saw wasn't actually happening right 
then and there, yet we remained con- 
vinced that we could capture reality with a 
film camera. Everything was a true repre- 
sentation. Or was it a truthful representa- 
tion? And since then, audiences have sur- 
vived and adapted to MTV's fast-cutting 
style and the oxymoron of reality-TV. If 
filmmaking managed to harbor any secrets 
of how reality was manipulated or re-cre- 
ated on the screen, an overdose of "behind 
the scenes" shows and the extras on DVDs 
has taken care of that. 

Be mindful that the audience you are 
talking about is much more informed 
today about style and medium than at any 
other time in history. Your concerns are 
not unfounded, though. You wouldn't like 
to startle a fully hypnotized audience with 
a technique that takes them out of their 
trance. But rather than worrying about 
style, concern yourself with consistency of 
style. 

If you present your experimental style 
or technique in context, any audience will 
almost certainly follow your reasoning. 
Once you establish a convention, whatev- 
er that convention is, you just need to 
remain faithful to it throughout the film. 
Filmmaker and media artist Liz Canner 
can attest to this. "For the most part, we 
are used to having our information pack- 
aged in a specific way," she says. 
"Therefore I have found that presenting a 
topic using experimental methods can 
often help audiences to see an issue in a 
new way." 

There is a new breed of viewers that can 
read between the lines, or in this case, 
between the frames. Why not give them a 
challenge? 

Want to ask the Doc Doctor a question for 
a future issue o/The Independent. ; Write to 
her at info@documentarydoctor.com. 



18 The Independent I June 2005 



PROFILE 



N6 




Vacancy 



Michael Kang's The Motel only has room for good writing 



By PJ Gach and Rick Harrison 

The first rule of fiction writing is to 
write what you know. The second 
rule of fiction writing is to write 
what you know. Sort of like Fight Club. 
Although, instead of advice from a 
manipulative, mindless movie that thinks 
it's a lot smarter than it is, writing what 
you know means something — it's more 
than bare knuckles to the chin. And 
Michael Kang — whose award-winning 
film The Motel shares a Chinese 
American adolescent's story without the 
benefit of some wacky kung fu choreog- 
raphy or the august blessing of a bankable 
name like Ang Lee — knows that writing 
what you know in the face of all market 
wisdom proves the oxymoronic nature of 
the phrase "market wisdom." What you 
know is the only thing you have worth 



sharing as a filmmaker. 

"As an artist, I really wanted to tell this 
story," Kang says. "Playing the market is 
impossible. If you try to set out to do 
something marketable, you will fail. The 
only sure bet is to do something you 
believe in." 

^hot in the summer of 2003 on loca- 
tion in Poughkeepsie, New York, and 
premiering at Sundance this past January, 
The Motel tells the quiet story of 13-year- 
old Ernest Chin (Jeffrey Chyau), and 20- 
something Sam Kim (Sung Kang; Better 
Luck Tomorrow, 2002), a lonely player 
type with a troubled recent past who 
drives a fancy car, drinks scotch from the 
bottle, and has different women in his 
room every night. The two become ten- 
tative friends as Sam tries to guide Ernest 



through the oily waters of adolescence. 

Though cast almost exclusively with 
Asian actors, it would be hard to find 
someone who couldn't relate to the film's 
themes of intergenerational disconnect 
between children and parents and the 
clueless, flailing gestures of burgeoning 
sexuality. 

"It's universal," says Kang, a Korean 
American born and raised in Rhode 
Island. "There isn't anyone who hasn't 
gone through puberty and had a horrible 
time with it." 

And although Kang is confident that 
his film will find a distributor — having 
already garnered a slew of honors for it, 
including a script that won the 24th 
annual Asian American International 
Film Festival Screenplay Competition 



June 2005 I The Independent 19 







! 


1 TANCY ] 


1 1 





Jade Wu (Ahma), Alexis Chang (Katie), Stephen Chen (Gung Gung), and Jeffrey Chyau (Ernest 
Chin) in The Motel (Tom Legoff) 



and the 2003 Sundance/NHK Intern- 
ational Filmmakers Award — polishing 
what he knew into what could play 
dramatically took some extra effort. 

"I knew the premise, I knew the issues, 
but I wasn't really sure what the resolu- 
tion to it was," Kang says of his script 
troubles. A friend recommended that he 
try the Sundance Screenwriters Lab for 
help. "I had no idea what the labs were," 
he says. "Actually, I'm glad that I didn't 
know what they were, because if I did, I 
probably would not have gotten in. I 
would have been too calculating. I would 
have fucked it up." 

But the education of 35-year-old 
Michael Kang developed as naturally as 
his script: with persistence and a little 
help from his friends. 

In a diner in New York City's Union 
Square on a cold February day, Kang dis- 
cusses his young filmmaking career, 
beginning with his first project, 1998's A 
Waiter Tomorrow. A short film about 
revengeful waiters based on a theater 
piece created by a performance troupe 
Kang was involved with, it was more than 
just an opportunity to extend the life of a 
skit; it was his chance to finally direct a 
film and gain essential experience. 

"I basically learned everything I need- 



ed to know on a technical level about 
making a film in three days, and I made 
it as difficult as possible," Kang says. "I 
had a whole ballistics team, special 
effects, make-up, and fight choreogra- 
pher. After that experience, I realized I 
knew everything that I could have 
learned in four years of film school, and 
then I just jumped in and started doing 
stuff." A Waiter Tomorrow, along with his 
next short, Japanese Cowboy (2000) both 
won awards. 

Not bad for a filmmaker who original- 
ly wanted to be a playwright. "I always 
loved film," Kang says. "I think that 
Hollywood gives film a bad name, so I 
was embarrassed that I liked it so much. 
It was more respectable to be a play- 
wright — more respectable to be a 'real' 
writer than a screenwriter. It took me 
awhile to admit that I really wanted to 
make films, and that it doesn't have to be 
what the studios are pumping out." 

Kang, whose father teaches physics at 
Brown and whose mother taught nursing 
at the University of Rhode Island, went 
to New York University to study dramat- 
ic writing, hoping to find the New York 
he saw in the films of the 70s. "When I 
came here, I was like, what happened? I 
feel like it still exists in the outer bor- 



oughs, like Queens and the Bronx — that 
gritty, real New York." 

Soon after moving, Kang wrote and 
directed Bike Messengers and The Cycle 
Messenger World Championship (2000), a 
series of short documentaries, and he 
became a founder of Roshomon, a New 
York City based screenwriting group. He 
also got involved with the Asian 
American Screenwriter's Circle and a 
theater troupe called Peeling the Banana. 

"It was the normal kind of experimen- 
tal theater," Kang says of the group's 
work, "where you pull your pants down 
on stage." 

When asked how he balanced his 
many projects and obligations, Kang 
laughs and says, "I have a hard time say- 
ing no. I feel like if I like what I'm doing, 
I don't pay attention, it finds its way into 
my life. It comes in waves; different 
things come in at different times." 

One of those waves brought him Ed 
Lin, a writer friend of Kang and a fellow 
member of the troupe, who showed Kang 
his short story which later became Lin's 
novel, Waylaid (Kaya Press, 2002) and 
then The Motel. Kang loved the bitter- 
sweet coming-of-age tale about a father- 
less young Chinese American boy grow- 
ing up with a miserable, demanding 
shrew of a mother a in a rundown motel, 
and used it as the basis for a feature film 
screenplay. "[The film] is like our two 
takes on the same premise," Kang says. 
"To me, it was important that Lin got 
credit up there to show that we're all 
working together." 

Meanwhile, making shorts began to 
pale. "It got to the point where I knew 
exactly how many pizzas I had to order 
for a production," Kang says. "I lost the 
joy of storytelling. It was all very prag- 
matic... and then I had this script [The 
Motel\. But I didn't understand how this 
script could become something that gets 
on screen and someone gives you a sack 
of money to make." 

The Motelszi on a shelf for almost nine 
months. Eventually, he entered it in the 
Asian American International Film 
Festival Screenplay Competition and 
won. Kang, whose college roommate was 
ushered into Hollywood by director and 
producer Ivan Reitman, started talking to 



20 The Independent I June 2005 



people about the project, and that's when 
the idea of applying to the Sundance 
Labs surfaced. "It was funny because a 
year and a half before that, I had a couple 
of friends who had mentors, and I didn't 
know where to find one. I feel like that 
active wish on my part [to have a men- 
tor], made me open to knowing that I 
had a lot more to learn, and I realized 
that if you ask for help, people do want to 
help you. So, I just opened myself up and 
I think that's what happened." 

The screenwriter's lab led to the 
filmmaker's lab and then back to anoth- 
er screenwriter's lab — all through 
Sundance. And with each, Kang and The 
Motel gained indispensable experience 
and resources. The Sundance labs, taught 
by volunteer veterans of both big studio 
and independent productions, offer film- 
makers not just greater insight into the 
creative process, but often the opportuni- 
ty to grab the guiding hand of a mentor. 

It was during the filmmaker's lab 
where Kang met producers Matthew 
Greenfield and Gina Kwon and director 
Miguel Arteta {Chuck & Buck, The Good 



Girl). Greenfield and Kwon liked Kang's 
script and agreed to become producers 
for The Motel. Arteta and Kang, close in 
age, hit it off right away, and Arteta 
became Kang's long-sought-for mentor. 

The project really started to gain 
momentum once Greenfield and Arteta 
were on board, although financing 
remained elusive. "There were a bunch of 
people from the labs who made their 
films this year, and other New York film- 
makers too, and I realized that no two 
films have ever gotten their money the 
same way," Kang says. "It was a lot of 
knocking on doors and a lot of luck." In 
time, Kang was introduced to Richard 
and Esther Shapiro (creators of televi- 
sion's "Dynasty"), both active supporters 
of young artists, who became the execu- 
tive producers on the film and made a 
significant investment. A small equity 
group created by Kang's friends also con- 
tributed to the production. 

Though as of this writing the future of 
The Motel remains uncertain, Kang con- 
tinues to get by with a little help from his 
friends. And for them as well. 



His friend Mira Nair ( Vanity Fair, 
Monsoon Wedding gave a script of his to 
director Wayne Wang ( The Joy Luck Club, 
Smoke), who asked him to shoot second 
unit setups for the recent studio release 
Because ofWinn-Dixie. Currently, he is co- 
writing a script with Edmund Lee called 
Koreatown, which he hopes will pay hom- 
age to films like Serpico (1973), and Dog 
Day Afternoon (1975). Kang is also at 
work on a dark comedic play for the New 
York-based Ma-Yi Theatre Company. 

When asked how he selects the materi- 
al he chooses to write about, Kang says, 
"Anything I've done creatively, it's always 
been about filling a void. I've never seen 
this movie, I've never seen this short, I've 
never seen this performance before. It's 
trying to figure out what I want to see. So, 
I don't think I'm limited to just the inde- 
pendent route. It could be a huge 
Hollywood blockbuster that I've never 
seen before. I just feel like I'm driven by 
that feeling of 'I'd like to see that movie.'" 

It's a pure and infectious drive that 
makes others want to see that movie too, 
whatever it is. "& 



Film/Video 

Bachelor of Fine Arts 



• Digital Video • 16mm Film • Lighting/Set Design 

• Cinematography • Film Editing • Audio-Post Production 

• Script Writing • Film History • AVID Non-Linear Editing 

• Directing 



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FIVE TOWNS COUEGE 

E-mail Admissions@ftc.edu 

305 N. Service Road Dix Hills, N.Y. 11746-5871 




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June 2005 I The Independent 21 



FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 



Good Lord, 



Not Another Artsy Film Festival! 

Reflections from the hi/lo Film Festival founder 




The hi/lo Film Festival was held in April 2005 in San Francisco (courtesy of Marc Vogl) 

By Marc Vogl 

I am Marc Vogl, a 30-something East Coast kid who came out to San Francisco in the 
90s following a Richard Dreyfuss-in-CZa^" Encounters kind of urge. I didn't know what 
was luring me west or what I'd find when I got here, but I was powerless to resist. And, 
like the lemmings in Close Encounters, I was not alone. A critical mass of musicians, actors, 
comedians, and filmmakers moved here on the eve of the dot-com rollercoaster and felt like 
making our own entertainment. To that end we seized the means of production. 

We rented theaters. 

We bought funny wigs. 

We borrowed cameras 

We dated directors of photography (or tried to). 

In a surprisingly short order a body of work was created, a school of like-minded artists 
was unwittingly formed, and a very silly first movie was in the can. 

The film was about a piece of chocolate that flies through space. It was enigmatically titled 
Space Chocolate. The film was a commentary on an entire canon of anti-climactic space 
odysseys, a triumph of low-budget puppetry, and it starred a modified Toblerone traversing 
a galaxy of duvateen and Christmas lights to land in an old pizza box. Like a sandcastle made 




The 2005 hi/lo poster (Keith Teleki 



22 The Independent I June 2005 



just before the tide rolls in, it seemed 
quite likely that no one would ever see 
this five-minute saga. And, in the grand 
tradition of people determined to do 
everything the hard way, the film's direc- 
tors, Brian L. Perkins and Paul Charney, 
and I founded the hi/lo Film Festival 
pretty much for the sole purpose of 
showing Space Chocolate. 

Interest in the film festival picked up a 
lot faster than interest in our sweet- 
toothed inter-stellar adventure flick, and 
since that first festival in 1997, thousands 
of films have been submitted to us (over 
500 this year). We've presented over 300 
shorts, features, docs, videos, animations, 
experimentals, and indescribable concoc- 
tions at screenings around the country 
and before eager crowds in the Bay Area. 
Local publications like The San Francisco 
Bay Guardian now describe the festival as 
"four days of free-thinking creative com- 
bustion," and Film Threat recently paid 
us the nicest complement I think we'll 
ever get: "The hi/lo Film Festival has a 



program that stretches across all emo- 
tions. ..there is an eclectic selection here 
that personifies what being different is. 
And it's worth it." (Oh yeah, Space 
Chocolate ultimately played at a couple 
other places too, including an astronomy 
class at the University of Oklahoma.) 

Bringing together films based on 
something as slippery as a "high concept" 
idea executed on a small budget, has been 
an education in the human imagination. 
I wish I could say that after watching 
nearly a decade's worth of low-budget 
film submissions I'd seen it all, but I cer- 
tainly haven't. Yes, we've programmed 
documentaries about competitive table 
setting, noise musicians who do it all for 
Christ, and a guy who makes art out of 
dead rats and his mother's dentures. But 
my conception of how many ways there 
are to live on this planet extends far 
beyond the annual crop of docs about 
individual nutballs and eccentric com- 
munities. My sense of the human experi- 
ence is expanded by filmmakers who 



attach a camera lens to a microscope to 
make details on a corroded spoon look 
like a lunar surface; who convey demen- 
tia by rearranging a narrative about 
Alzheimer's to reflect how a sufferer 
might tell the story; who painstakingly 
animate the imagined telephone conver- 
sations of rabbits and fish one film cell at 
a time; who place a tortilla and an apple 
in a room and let the cameras roll; who 
send digital hot dogs flying through the 
air while cranking up Foreigner; and who 
sit at home alone in their boxers dispens- 
ing dubious financial advice to their dig- 
ital camera. 

When navigating through tapes and 
disks of stories alternately surreal, mun- 
dane, dazzling, and totally unredeeming 
(yes, we get a lot of stinkers) the chal- 
lenge is to pick out the work that starts 
with an original idea and ends up a faith- 
fully executed expression of that initial 
inspiration. Sometimes a filmmaker sets 
out to tell a simple joke, to capture a sin- 
gle moment, to explain a particular 




June 2005 I The Independent 23 




Piece by Piece (Nic Hill) 




Making Love (Out of Nothing At All) (Michelle Dean) 



tragedy, or to chronicle an entire life, but 
each hi/lo film places ideas and creativity 
over imitation and slickness and proves, as 
the hi/lo motto department is fond of say- 
ing, that when it comes to movie-making 
big imaginations are more important than 
fat wallets. 

While anybody with a $500 video cam- 
era can call themselves a filmmaker, film is 
a wretchedly unforgiving medium, and 
making a film that succeeds on its own 
terms is very difficult. And, for better or 
worse, film is also the artistic medium the 
average Joe feels most qualified to critique. 
Most people may not be able to analyze a 
poem's sensibility or expound upon a 
sculpture s form, but everyone can tell you 
what they thought about the last movie 
they saw. 

Looking around at the stunning num- 
ber of film festivals in America it's easy to 
conclude that all a festival organizer has to 
do is open up the doors and brace for the 
stampede of cinemaniacs. Indeed, all year 
long in the Bay Area fans are lining to see 
nearly 50 festivals that cater to 101 flavors 
of film: gay films, black films, Jewish 
films, Arab films, Latino films, Asian 
American films, silent films, films made 
with cell phones... the list seems endless. 
Even as I write this in my Mission District 
coffee shop someone has just handed me a 
promo flyer for his "slo-mo" video fest! 

However, it's not too hard to see that 
the entire community of film festivals 
(Sundance included) is a niche market and 
that our collective audience is actually not 
as big as we might think. I'd wager that 
more people saw Garfield — The Movie 
(2004 box office gross $75 million) than 
all the films at all the festivals in America 
last year. 

It's not that we're after world domina- 
tion, but since film festival programmers 
are pretty peripheral taste-makers it's cru- 
cial that the films we program — and the 
way we present them — inspire our audi- 
ence to want to take another chance on 
someone else's festival next week. More 
than that we want to contribute to a cul- 
ture of supporting grassroots and small- 
scale arts programming of every type. 

At hi/lo we wrestle with the subject of 
growth all the time. "Bigger is not better" 
is the guiding principle of our "high con- 



24 The Independent I June 2005 



cept/low-budget" approach to picking 
films. We strive to put films before audi- 
ences that illustrate how liberating a small 
budget can be and, by implication, how 
enormous budgets have a way of fucking 
up a lot of really good ideas for movies. 
This belief that film festivals, like a paint- 
ing or a novel, should have an appropriate 
size is also the conceit that made Space 
Chocolate at once a Star Wars parody and 
something really original, too. It's also at 
the root of why talented filmmakers don't 
all go to Hollywood or Vancouver or 
wherever they made Garfield. 

Sure, we want more people to see the 
films we program, and yes we want to be 
able to show more films. But unless 
Loews or AMC gives us the keys to every 
multiplex in the country our reach into 
the American mainstream will never be 
complete. Sometimes showing a few 
films at a few theaters for a few days feels 
as satisfying as bringing sand to the 
beach. But when we do get a packed 
house to see a killer documentary about 
San Francisco's graffiti history (and the 
men's bathroom at the movie theater is 



redolent with fresh tags at the end of the 
night), it feels like we've moved the 
chains forward just a little bit. 

If everyone who makes great high- 
concept/low-budget films has a surplus of 
avenues to present their work, then 
conduits like our film festival wouldn't be 
necessary. We could pack up. We would be 
done. But the world isn't quite there yet. 
For all the growth and variety that has 
defined our festival over the past eight 
years, the raison d'etre or the hi/lo Film 
Festival remains steadfast and true: some- 
where out there someone is making a 
really brilliant (some would doubtless say 
stupid) film, and the world will be a better 
place if people get a chance to see it. 

The hi/lo Film Festival next screens June 
10 at Automotive High School in Brooklyn 
as part of the Rooftop Film Series. For more 
information about the films shown in 
the festival, or to submit yours to the next 
one, please visit: www.hilofilmfestival.com. 
And if you really want to see a piece of 
chocolate fly through the universe, check out 
ivww. killingmylobster. com. 




Space Chocolate 

(Paul Charney, Brian L. Perkins) 




I'm With Stupid (Ben McCormick) 




■ l ~i$ \ 



&% NBC NEWS ARCHIVES 



30 ROCKEFELLER PLAZA, NEW YORK, NY 10112 
TELEPHONE: 212 664 3797 FAX: 212 703 8558 



June 2005 I The Independent 25 




By Rebecca Carroll 



There was one good thing about 
Malcolm Lee's 1999 studio film 
The Best Man: Terrence Howard. I 
wrote a review of the film for 
Africana.com (now Blackvoices.com) in 
which I said just that. I got lots of emails 
from angry black men because I likened 
the film to an R&B video (and I'd say it 
again today). But Terrence Howard was 
something else. You just sort of waited for 
him to enter the frame. Since then, 
Howard has done over a dozen films, 
including a handful of independents — 
three of which went to Sundance earlier 
this year: The Salon (Mark Brown, direc- 
tor), Lacka-wana Blues (George C. Wolfe, 
director), and the festival darling, Hustle 
& Flow (Craig Brewer, director), which 



was bought by Paramount for a festival 
record $9 million and will open theatri- 
cally next month. 

Howard plays DJay, the fiercely bro- 
ken yet surprisingly complex failed pimp 
and aspiring rap artist. It's a story that 
from the outset might sound familiar — 
the standard Horatio Alger rags to riches 
story only DJay never becomes rich 
exactly, and his aspirations are propelled 
less by pure ambition as they are by emo- 
tional instinct. Howard plays DJay so 
deeply wanting, so internally tortured, 
that you nearly forget he's a pimp (if a 
not very good one), and think of him 
more as a sort of latter day Arthur 
Rimbaud (who actually, might have been 
a better pimp than poet). 



I recently sat down with Terrence 
Howard to talk about Hustle & Flow, and 
his thoughts on filmmaking and acting. 

Rebecca Carroll: So Sundance this 
year — three films, and one, Hustle & 
Flow-, just blows up. 

Terence Howard: I had no idea that 
the film was going to do so well. I was 
just happy that Sundance had accepted it, 
but then the reception and response to 
it — halfway through the film I'm looking 
around and I see everyone glued to the 
screen, some people fidgeting in their 
seats, but it looked like they needed to go 
to the bathroom and didn't want to miss 
nothing. And afterwards, the applause — 
they had been applauding for a while for 



26 The Independent I June 2005 



different people, but then everyone stood 
up when I started walking to the stage. I 
didn't expect that. I don't really know what 
surreal means, but that's the only word I 
can think of to describe that experience. 

RC: Doesn't it make sense, though? 
You poured your heart into that part 
and people were applauding you for it. 

TH: That I love. If that's what they 
were applauding, that I love. 

RC: Well yeah, what else would they 
be applauding? 

TH: I just... I don't know. I was clap- 
ping too, looking around like, "Where's 
the star at, come on man, where he at?" 
And then it was like, "Oh, that's me." 

RC: How did you feel while you 
were watching the film? 

TH: I was looking for moments that 
weren't true. 

RC: Is that what you do when you 
watch your performances? 

TH: If you're a seamstress you're 
always looking for where you missed a 
stitch so you can remember in the future 
where to be more careful. I was looking at 
the stitching of this film, of this tapestry 
that we created, and it had a couple boo- 
boos, but that added character to it. I was 
happy that the boo-boos fit along with 
the overall idea of what I wanted, what 
we wanted. 

RC: How did you first hear about 
the project? 

TH: Stephanie Allain. She champi- 




(L-R) Taraji Henson as Shug, Paula Jai Parker as Lexus, Terrence Howard as DJay, and Taryn 
Manning as Nola in Hustle & Flow {Man Spearman/Crunk Picture) 



oned that thing. I was staying at the Four 
Seasons in Beverly Hills — I don't remem- 
ber what I was doing but I was there with 
my kids — and Stephanie set up a meeting 
with my agent's assistant. 

RC: So you met with her? 

TH: I was like, "Let's get to the skinny 
of it, cause I'm gonna go play with my 
kids." She says, "Well, I got two projects 
I want to talk to you about." The first 
was Biker Boyz, but she says Derek Luke 
is gonna star. So I say, "OK, what's the 
other one?" And she tells me about this 
script Hustle & Flow — this pimp selling 
weed who wants to become a rapper. I 
told her that wasn't the direction I want- 
ed to go in, but I liked the Biker Boyz 
idea, and I told her if things changed 
with that to call me. She said, "Well, we 
can't change the lead, but there's some 
other people you can play." And the next 



thing I know, she's made an offer for this 
character [in Biker Boyz], Chu Chu. I was 
only supposed to work for four days, but 
she put me up in the Chateau Marmont 
in LA for like two months, gave me a 
huge allowance and just kind of friend- 
lied up with me. 

After a month, she said, "I know you 
said no, but would you meet with the 
director [on Hustle & Flow], he just wants 
to hear some of your ideas." And I sat 
down with the director, Craig Brewer, 
and he started selling me on it too, and I 
told him, "I just can't go back to the dark 
side, I can't go back to that place." And 
he said, "That's why we want you to do 
it. Everybody else wants to do it because 
they want to glorify it, and we want you 
because we know you're not gonna be up 
there trying to glorify anything [this 
character] is going through." And I said, 
"Yeah, but I don't know if I'll be able to 



June 2005 I The Independent 27 



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(L-R) Terrence Howard as DJay, DJ Quails as Shelby and Anthony Anderson as Key in a 
scene set in a makeshift recording studio in Hustle & F/ow(Alan Spearman/Crunk Picture) 



come up out of it." You dive into some- 
thing like that you gotta be able to come 
up out of it. 

And from there, Craig just hounded 
me for a good six months. He and 
Stephanie talked to Paramount, MTV, 
Universal, Focus, and all those studios 
said, "We will give you the money to do 
this fdm, but who are you gonna use?" 
This is before they had me locked 
down — in fact, I was still telling them no. 
And Craig and Stephanie told these 
studios, "We want to use Terrence 
Howard." The response they got was, 
"What label is he on?" 

"Terrence Howard, the actor." And the 
studios were like, "Oh, him? You really 
wanna work wirh him? No, no, we cant 
do that. But you know, if you put Ja Rule 
in there, or Ludacris in there, we'll give 
you 5 to 10 million dollars to make it." 
And Chris and Stephanie really wanted to 
make that movie, but they said, "No, we 
want Terrence." You gotta reward that 
type of stick-to-it-ive-ness. They had faith. 

RC: At what point did you read the 
script? 

TH: Oh, I read it that first time. Well 
no, after I met with Craig. I told him I 
was gonna read it before we met, and I'm 
sitting there just BS-ing and he says to 
me at the end, "You didn't read it, did 
you?" And I was like, "No, I didn't." He 
said, "Just do me a favor, just read it, 



please. Just promise me you'll read it." 
And I gave him my word so I read it, and 
it kind of grew on me a little. 

RC: I wanted to ask about the script 
because the writing is fairly remark- 
able don't you think? 

TH: Well, see, Craig didn't write all of 
ir. 1 put the "niggers" in. I spent three 
months down in Memphis talking with 
these cats, learning the method of their 
communication. There is no way you can 
be that character [DJay] without being 
true to the language he uses. Its not 
derogatory the way it's used in Memphis. 
Even though it may have derogatory con- 
notations anywhere else, there it's just 
part of the communication. And I'm not 
trying to be politically correct — I could 
give a hot damn about people in this 
business, what I'm trying to be is honest. 
So I put in all those "niggers" and people 
kept telling me not to, but I was like, no, 
if we're using Al Capone and Juicy J and 
all these cats I've spent all this time with, 
this is how they're talking to me. We 
didn't have a studio blocking us, telling 
us what we could and couldn't do. 
We were open to tell the truth. So let's tell 
the truth. 

RC: I was also really struck by the 
women in the film, because they are 
certainly downtrodden, but they're not 
crushed. And that's a testament to 



28 The Independent I June 2005 



'The director was that pimp in a 

figurative sense — trying to get 

everything done to produce his 

first film. I got the most 

information about that character 

from a middle-aged white guy." 

— Terrence Howard 



Craig, is it not? 

TH: Yeah, but Craig was writing about 
his own life experiences. Craig was DJay. 
The director was that pimp in a figurative 
sense — trying to get everything done to 
produce his first film. I got the most 
information about that character from a 
middle-aged white guy. 

RC: How do you feel about the film 
now? 

TH: I love it. I mean, we had a hard 
time because some people in higher 
places wanted DJay to be harder — John 
Singleton likes to makes tough, tough 
movies, and he said, "[DJay's] gotta be 
hard, he's gotta be hard." I was like, if he 
was hard, then he would be a good pimp, 
but the fact that he's a bad pimp is 
because he cares, because he's not hard. 

RC: So there are a lot of projects 
happening for you right now — I saw 
Lackawanna Blues, which I liked. Had 
you worked with George C. Wolfe 
before? 

TH: No, that was the first time, and it 
is the gem of my career. George stripped 
me of anything that was comfortable and 
challenged me, taught me to be specific. 

RC: In more mainstream fare, there's 
been this recent rash of formulaic films 
featuring black leads. They're not nec- 
essarily "black films" — they're not 
directed or written by black people — 
but they have black people in them. 



And I'm wondering for you, because 
you've done both independent and 
mainstream films, how you feel your 
experience is different between some- 
thing for hire, or a commercial studio 
film, and a more independent film like 
Hustle & Flow or Lackawana Blues. 

TH: My nature is more geared towards 
independent films. I don't have an idea of 
what I'm going to do and oftentimes, 
unless the script is flexible enough for me 
to gain weight as a character or to lose 
weight as a character, I walk around 
bunched up or too tight. I need the free- 
dom that comes with independent films. 
We couldn't have accomplished what we 
did with Hustle & Flow if we'd had a stu- 
dio behind us. It's like street-ball players 
compared to NBA players. NBA players 
could never accomplish what they accom- 
plish at street-ball because street-ball is all 
heart — you gotta come with that to really 
play. Whereas NBA is structure and fran- 
chise and whatever they got going with 
endorsements. 

RC: A lot of actors who do both say, 
"I'll do a couple of studio films so I can 
afford to make some independent 
films." Is that you're model too? 

TH: That's the formula, yeah. 

RC: What's next for you? 

TH: I'm looking forward to playing Joe 
Louis for Spike Lee next year. We're 
gonna do his life story. 



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Taryn Manning as Nola and Terrence Howard as DJay in Hustle & Flow (Mart 
Spearman/Crunk Picture) 



RC: Have you worked with Spike? 

TH: No. 

RC: That'll be a great collaboration. 

TH: Then I'm gonna play another cat 
named Petey Greene, who was a 
Washington, DC disc jockey in the late 
60s and 70s who became a worldwide 
celebrity and hated that. And then I'll 
probably retire. 

RC: You can't — your audience won't 
let you. 

TH: I'm just tired of being other peo- 
ple. I want to see who I am. And when I 
say I'm tired, I mean this hustle that I've 
been on for the last 10 years, every day, 
365 days a year — you can't do that forev- 
er. You need a rest in between, and then 
that allows other actors to come in and 
do what they're gonna do. You can't be 
greedy and try to hog the whole world, 
you know? You can only spread your can- 
vas but so far. You may light up the whole 
house, but only for a minute. 

RC: But you must really love some 
of what you do. 

TH: Oh, I love the acting part. I just 
hate the marketing of it, because I have to 
become a commodity. And so it's like, 



"OK, Terrence, come on! Be this!" I can't 
do that. It takes a long time to evoke some 
spirit from some place and if you try to 
rush it, you might get some spirit from 
some place you didn't want. 

RC: Any interest in directing? 

TH: One day. But first I want to 
develop a whole new way of shooting. 
The way we're shooting now is archaic, 
it's wrong. 

RC: What do you mean? 

TH: We need a whole new camera that 
can catch real room tones. 

RC: Is it a different kind of shooting 
or a different kind of filmmaking? 

TH: A combination of the both, 
because you have to create a mood on the 
set for the shooting process, but then the 
filmmaking itself — it takes a true cine- 
matic, organizational genius to be a great 
director. 

RC: That's why there are so few good 
directors out there. 

TH: There are about three directors in 
the world right now. The rest are just 
pretending. ~k 



30 The Independent I June 2005 



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Elvis Mitchel 
gets busy 

By Rick Harrison 

Elvis lives. 

It's true. And in fact, he was reached 
by phone in room 633 of the Weston 
Hotel in Southfield, Michigan, not far 
from Detroit, for this article. He sound- 
ed healthy, busy, and happy with where 
life has taken him. A Weston front desk 
manager reported no .44-caliber bullet 
holes in the rooms television set. 

Of course, Elvis Mitchell (sorry if you 
had someone else in mind) can be as 
notoriously restless as any king wearing 
many crowns and stuck in a stuffy 
throne room. A film critic, studio devel- 
opment executive, radio and TV show 
host, visiting Harvard professor, and 
media pundit, Mitchell will serve as guest 
curator at this month's Los Angeles Film 
Festival. Mitchell, who has been sneered 
at for Hollywood hobnobbing and psy- 
choanalyzed in the press and online after 
he quit his job reviewing films at The New 
York Times in May 2004 when his col- 
league A.O. Scott was promoted to chief 
film critic, doesn't care much what people 
think of him. He does what he does. And 
that's more than most. 

"I learned from my father that working 
hard will never kill you," Mitchell says 
while visiting family in his hometown. 
"You might wish it does, but it never 
does." 

His father worked a day shift at a dairy 
plant and nights at an industrial laundry 
until he retired. His mother, stayed home 
with Elvis and his eight brothers and sis- 
ters. 

"I always try to take my life one day at 
a time," says Mitchell, 44. "Like the advice 
Kevin Cosrner gave Tim Robbins in Bull 
Durham." 




Elvis Mitchell in Santa Barbara, 2005 
(Rebecca Sapp/Wirelmage.com) 



These recent days find Mitchell in some 
new territory after he accepted a job in 
February with Columbia Pictures to over- 
see the studio's New York development 
and production office as executive produc- 
tion consultant along with producer 
Deborah Schindler {Maid in Manhattan, 
Mona Lisa Smile). And now, he's taking a 
more prominent role in helping IFP/Los 
Angeles with their film festival, running 
June 16-26. 

Behind the scenes, Mitchell has helped 
festival director Richard Raddon and pro- 
gramming director Rachel Rosen for the 
past few years, offering advice and some 
program choices. "We just came out of the 
closet with it this year," Mitchell says. "I'm 
honored." He will select a number of spe- 
cial screenings and moderate discussions 
and seminars. 

Although the slate of films remains in 
flux as of this writing, leaving Mitchell 



tight-lipped about what to expect, he says 
he was proud that the festival will be pay- 
ing tribute to the recently deceased Ossie 
Davis with a newly discovered print of 
Gone Are the Days, the film adaptation of 
Davis's play of the same name. 

Mitchell, an over 6-foot tall black man 
with 2-foot long dreadlocks and a taste for 
Helmut Lang suits, hopes to use his influ- 
ence to continue the festival's tradition of 
spotlighting minority filmmakers. 

"One of the reasons I'm eager to do this 
is that they don't treat filmmakers of color 
as needing to go in this special box," he 
says. "It's just part of the same experience. 
Everything intersects and everyone 
becomes influenced by everyone else. 
That's important because it says you can't 
pretend one kind of film is better and the 
other is some kind of fluke we shall 
acknowledge only on a periodic basis." 

While the prospect of helping advance 
the racial composition of what appears on 
screen continues to motivate him, 
Mitchell doesn't expect it will dominate 
his choices as a curator or in his develop- 
ment job to the detriment of good story- 
telling. "I'm a black person in the United 
States," he says. "I would certainly like to 
see my life reflected in film, but also love 
genre films and all those things." 

Some media reports, including a partic- 
ularly stinging New York magazine article 
from May 10, 2004 just as Mitchell was 
leaving The Times, speculated that the 
move was at least partly based on the 
departure of his friend and managing edi- 
tor Gerald Boyd, who provided one of the 
few other black faces at 229 W 43rd St. 
The newspaper isn't exactly called "The 
Old Gray Lady" because it's equal parts 
black and white. 

But Mitchell submits that his reasons 
for leaving were quite simple. "They made 
a change I wasn't happy with so I quit," he 
says, referring to Scott's promotion. "If I 
was told that was going to happen when 
they hired me, I might have thought dif- 
ferently about taking the job." 

And as for any discomfort working in 
such lily-white surroundings, Mitchell 



32 The Independent I June 2005 



shrugs it off with clearheaded realism. "It 
is a very white place, but what isn't?" he 
asks. "Is it whiter than ABC News or Time 
magazine? I've never worked in a place 
that wasn't predominantly white." 

And then there's Harvard, that other 
bastion of black culture. A graduate of 
Wayne State University with a degree in 
English literature, Mitchell has worked 
two stints at Harvard as a visiting lecturer, 
teaching courses titled "History of 
American Film Criticism" and "The 
African-American Experience in Film: 
1930-1970." In October of 2002, Henry 
Louis Gates, invited Mitchell to deliver 
the Alain Leroy Locke lectures for the 
African American studies department. 

For his first semester at Harvard, 
Mitchell flew back and forth to 
Cambridge from his other full-time job at 
The Times, something that reportedly gen- 
erated quizzical looks from a few of his 
colleagues at the paper, and perhaps 
helped generate a mixed bag of reviews 
from students. The Harvard Crimson 
reported that his lecturers mostly consist- 
ed of watching films and listening to 
Mitchell talk about them for an hour 
afterwards, peppered with sporadic read- 
ing and writing assignments and the occa- 
sional surprise guest culled from his 
coterie of notable friends, such as 
Newmarket Films honcho Bob Berney 
and last-day-of-class treat Bill Murray. 

As always, Mitchell is realistic about the 
learning curve of teaching and how to 
structure lectures, balancing the films and 
the readings. "I think I'm learning how to 
do it, too," he says. "I get better at it all the 
time." 

Mitchell's gigs with Harvard, the LAFF, 
and Columbia aren't his first forays outside 
of film criticism. In 1992 Brandon 
Tartikoff, the NBC programming whiz 
who served a brief tenure as studio chief at 
Paramount Pictures, brought his friend 
Mitchell on board as a vice president of 
development. Tartikoff left shortly after- 
wards for personal reasons, and Mitchell, 
who continued to review films on NPR's 
Weekend Edition, led to his firing six 
months later for what Paramount cited as 
a conflict of duty. 

But Mitchell sees that time differently. 
"It was not a conflict of interest," he says. 
"I was never going to hide my opinion. 



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June 2005 I The Independent 33 




ZuSare 




They told me to tell them what I thought 
and what kind of films I wanted to see 
made. As a critic, I couldn't be dishonest 
anyway. But once Tartikoff left, they really 
didn't care about me, and I lost my cover. 
It was like being in Saigon in 1975 trying 
to get to the roof of the US embassy." 

And as for cracks at his character for his 
self-promotional knack, his glamorous 
lifestyle, and high-powered industry 
friends, Mitchell strides past the fray. "I go 
out to dinner, I dress well," he says. "If you 
want to create some kind of envy, I don't 
know what that's all about. I'm not in high 
school or anything. I've never hid any 
opinion from anybody I don't care what 
anyone says." 

At the moment, Mitchell cares most 
about obtaining some positive press for 
the LAFF, something he says has somehow 
fallen below the festival circuit radar. "It's 
still defining a role," he says. "I'm not sure 
why they don't get as much press as they 
should; it's where movies come from." 

One place they don't often come from is 
Detroit, where Mitchell didn't have any 
real film or media role models growing up. 
"This wasn't something I always wanted to 
do," he says of his multifaceted film career. 
"I didn't know anyone who grew up mak- 
ing money in the media." As an engineer 
at his college radio station, he got started 
reviewing films for that most simple of 
reasons. "I liked the idea of seeing movies 
for free," he says. "It made dating really 
cheaper." 

But after stretches at the Fort Worth 
Star- Telegram, the Detroit Free Press, L.A. 
Weekly, California magazine and the host- 
ing duties for "The Treatment" on KCRW 
and "Independent Focus," an interview 
program on the Independent Film 
Channel, Mitchell professes his only long- 
term goals are more day-to-day Bull 
Durham than Titanic king-of-the-world. 
"I just want to keep working in the indus- 
try," he says. "I've been incredibly fortu- 
nate; a lot of talented people haven't been 
as fortunate." 

But is he restless? "Restless is probably a 
good word for it," he says. "It never hurts 
to have new experiences and keep work- 
ing. Working can aid learning." 

And Elvis Mitchell lives to learn. •& 




—**-":£»3K" 



June 2005 I The Independent 35 



CHANG 

®FPJ) 

WEST 



BY ELIZABETH ANGELL 

In March, board members of IFP West, the Los Angeles branch of the influential indie 
advocacy and service group, reportedly agreed to rename their organization, removing 
the IFP brand from their official moniker. The name change is apparently part of IFP 
West's move to relaunch itself as an autonomous entity, though there is no indication 
that the organization will alter its mission of supporting independent filmmakers. The new 
group will continue to run the Los Angeles Film Festival (which runs this month) and the 
Independent Spirit Awards, two enormously successful and popular events wholly owned by 
IFP LA. 

Though no official announcement was made at the time this issue went to print, the pro- 
posed change sent ripples through the independent film community. The issues at stake are 
part of a larger debate about the character and future of independent film, and some film- 
makers and indie advocates worry that this move is a part of a larger trend away from true 
independence and towards a kind of compromised "Indiewood." Has a community that 
once prided itself on its outsider status refashioned itself in Hollywood's image? 

The six IFP branches — Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, and 
Minneapolis — have always had a loose affiliation. The Independent Features Project was 
founded in New York in 1 979 as a place where filmmakers could meet and share ideas and 
contacts. Soon it began to make equipment available to its members and to help them learn 
how to use it. "It was a gathering place for independent filmmakers," says Peter Belsito, one 
of IFP's founding members. "Nothing like that existed at the time." 

Belsito helped found IFP West a year later. Though at the time there was talk of aligning 
the two organizations more closely, they remained separate entities, each with their own 

36 The Independent I June 2005 





boards, staffs, and fundraising arms. 
The other regional offices were 
opened shortly thereafter, and each 
followed the same pattern. Today, 
they share a website and a magazine, 
Film-maker, but little else. 

Though a younger sibling to IFP 
New York, IFP West has become 
the biggest of the IFP branches, 
with an annual revenue stream of 
close to $4 million and more than 
6,000 members. By comparison, 
New York pulls in just over $2 mil- 
lion and has a membership base of 
about 2,000. The remaining four 
have budgets that hover well under 
$1 million and a combined mem- 
bership of just over 1,000 members. 
IFP West, in other words, has 
become the 800-pound gorilla of 
the group. 

IFP West owes a good deal or this 
impressive budget and higher pro- 
file to the Independent Spirit 
Awards, which the group launched 
in 1984. Over the past 20 years, the 
Indie Spirits have become a very big 
deal. Though they are billed as the 
"laid-back yin to Oscar's yang," they 
are just as much a cannily marketed 
celebrity fest as their mainstream 
doppelganger. The event is self-con- 
sciously tied to the Oscars 
timetable, always taking place the 
Saturday before the Academy 
Awards. When that ceremony 
moved from March to February a 
few years ago in order to stave off 
award-season fatigue, the Indie 
Spirits migrated with them. Held in 
a massive tent in Santa Monica, the 
Indies now attract easily as many 
stars as the Oscars, and dressed in 
jeans and floaty summer dresses, 
they look like they're having a much 
better time. 

The awards now attract a strictly 
A-list crowd. Tom Cruise was the 
honorary chair of 2004s ceremony, 
and while they have traditionally 
been hosted by John Waters, the 
Indie Spirits were helmed this year 
by Samuel L Jackson. They are now 
broadcast on the Independent Film 



June 2005 I The Independent 37 



Channel and AMC and covered aggressively by tabloids and 
industry press alike. High profile sponsors have signed on, pre- 
sumably to take advantage of the appealing blend of star power 
and indie credibility. 

The Indie Spirits have been the source of some controversy in 
recent years. To some, the nomination process appears frustrat- 
ingly opaque. A committee of around a dozen people selects can- 
didates in each category, and then the nominees are voted on by 
the membership of every IFP branch. And while there is a special 
slot for films with a budget under $500,000 — the John 
Cassavetes Award — many have complained that the Indies cele- 
brate films that have already had plenty of attention. This year, 
Sideways swept the awards, and past best picture winners have 
included Lost In Translation (2004), Far From Heaven (2003), and 
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) — all films with major 
publicity budgets that were honored by the Academy as well. 

"There's a lot more they could do to make sure that the 
film with the biggest budget, that spent the most marketing 



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Ted Sarandos of Netflix and Dawn 
Hudson of IFP/LA at the IFP Independent 
Spirit Awards Nominee B6Q (Randall 
Michelson/Wirelmage.com) 



Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lee Daniels at the 14th Annual 
Gotham Awards in New York City (Dimitrios 

Kambouns/Wi relmage.com) 



dollars, doesn't sweep the awards," says Rodney Evans, a director 
whose film, Brother to Brother, was nominated for Best First 
Feature this year. 

Evans is quick to add, though, that the attention his film 
received at the Indie Spirits this year was a huge boost. "A small 
film like mine really does benefit from getting national exposure 
on TV," he says. "I didn't have the resources to do national 
advertising." 

The IFP's defenders argue that the good that comes from all 
the hoopla far outweighs the bad. Cozying up to the celebrity 
machine seems a small price to pay for the attention and money 
that is lavished on independent films, and IFP West has a lot 
more money to spend on its programs. "What we were able to do 
for filmmakers back in 1991 is laughable," IFP executive director 
Dawn Hudson told Variety ax the time of the 2005 Indie Spirits. 
"We are able to help filmmakers so much more now." She point- 
ed out that membership dues have stayed under Si 00 ($95) and 
IFP has continued to offer numerous labs, mentorship programs, 



equipment rentals, and other professional services. 

There are critics, however, who feel that the circus of the Indie 
Spirits is a distraction from the IFP's core mission, which is to 
serve independent filmmakers who want to work outside the 
Hollywood system. "In general, filmmakers are more aware of 
organizations [like IFP] because they have gained such a 
high profile, which is great," says Risa Morimoto, the executive 
director of Asian Cinevision. "Unfortunately, the downside is that 
sometimes a huge high-profile event like the Independent Spirit 
Awards can take away from the other, smaller programs that help 
to develop and nurture the filmmakers at the beginning stages of 
their careers." 

Filmmaker Jim McKay, one of Brother to Brothers producers, 
says: "You can only say 'we're going Hollywood so we can pay for 
our good, smaller programs' for so long, until you're no longer 
going Hollywood, you've gone there and the good programs are just 
a token. Hey, even the Bush administration puts money in the 
budget for a couple good things that help some people." 

The other IFP branches, though they 
see none of the cash that flows into IFP 
West, will certainly feel the loss of their 
association with the Indie Spirits and the 
cachet of a California counterpart. IFP 
West has most of the organization's star 
power and that brings traffic to the website 
and attention to all the branches. "I think 
a lot of the members appreciate the feeling 
of being part of a larger organization," says 
one IFP insider who was unwilling to go 
on record. "The most valuable stuff that 
we do is local, but people really like voting 
for the Indie Spirits, and they like the feel- 
ing that they are part of something with 
an LA and a New York presence." 

And for its part, IFP New York has 
worked hard to step up its profile in 
recent years. IFP New York's answer to 
the Indies, The Gotham Awards, were launched in 1991. They 
honor members of New York's independent film community and 
were traditionally held in September, at the end of the annual fea- 
ture film market. Last year, the Gothams moved to December, 
the thick of awards season, and IFP broadened the scope of the 
awards. Many saw this as a sign that New York hoped to see the 
Gothams compete with the Indie Spirits. 

In April, a new Producers Group was launched under the IFP 
banner, made up of more than 50 representatives from many of 
the city's leading independent production companies, including 
Killer Films, This is That, and Greenstreet. They are many of the 
cities main players, and their official association with IFP was a 
welcome formalization of longstanding ties. The group has 
launched a major initiative to quantify how much independent 
filmmakers spend annually in New York and to organize them- 
selves to advocate for common causes — from measures that will 
make shooting in the city easier to the screener ban that has caused 
so much consternation in the film community in recent years. 



38 The Independent I June 2005 



No one at IFP West would comment on the reasons for the 
possible secession, but many have speculated that the group has 
simply outgrown the old system of allegiances. LA may not 
want to defer to its siblings on what direction the Indie Spirits 
should take and they may want to compete more aggressively — 
even directly — for scarce resources. As a separate entity, for 
example, LA might be able to further expand its sponsorship 
base without having to defer to New York or Chicago when it 
comes to sponsors on the East Coast or in the Mid- West. 

"This is a problem that we all have," says the executive 
director of another service organization who wished to remain 
anonymous. "We're all going after the same pool of funders and 
sponsors." 

IFP is not the only organization at a crossroads. Many groups 
report that they are taking stock of the programs they offer their 
members and constituents and of what the future might hold 
for advocacy and service organizations. "I think it gets down to 
two key things," says Fidelma McGinn, the executive director of 




/#"' 
^ 



Michelle Byrd, executive director of IFP New 
York, at the 14th Annual Gotham Awards in 2004 
(Dimitrios Kambouris/Wirelmage.com) 



Zach B raff (Garden State) and Dawn 
Hudson, executive director of IFP/West at 
the 20th Annual IFP Independent Spirit 
Awards (Jeff Vespa/Wirelmage.com) 



San Francisco's Film Arts Foundation. "We all have the same 
challenge of keeping ourselves relevant to our member base and 
finding ways to stay solvent." 

To some degree, these organizations are a victim of the mete- 
oric rise of the independent film industry. When the IFP was 
founded, independent filmmaking was still in its infancy, 
though enthusiasm was growing steadily. NeWj_ portable equip- 
ment designed for news and documentaries have made film- 
making outside the studio system possible, and the counter cul- 
ture ethos of the 60s and 70s fueled young filmmakers' desire to 
make both more political and more personal work. Service 
organizations found a natural niche helping filmmakers gain 
access to expensive equipment, offering workshops on tech- 
nique and practice and providing a meeting place where people 
could discuss their aesthetic and artistic concerns, while con- 
necting with funders and distributors. 

However, digital equipment is cheap today and almost 
universally accessible. The crucial information and skills that 



used to belong only to experienced professionals are now largely 
available to anyone with an internet connection. 

"Historically, the great advantage of access centers is that they 
provided media-making tools that were largely inaccessible because 
they were expensive and required a great deal of training and 
knowledge," says Charlie Humphrey, who heads up Pittsburgh 
Filmmakers, one of the largest and oldest independent media arts 
centers in the country. "But now, the barriers to entry in the media 
arts are almost completely gone. What was once a great asset to 
these centers — namely equipment and knowledge — are no longer 
an asset. It's a funny paradox, because in many ways what has 
occurred is precisely what we have wanted for many years, which 
is the democratization of media, the tools, the access, everything. 
But here we stand with our arms akimbo saying now what?" 

Service groups have had to refocus their energies on their value 
as a site for networking and as educational and advocacy organi- 
zations. "We still have to do what we've always done best which is 
to trade in the currency of knowledge," Humphrey says. "We 
have to continue to make the case that 
media literacy is really cultural literacy 
and that just because you can learn how to 
wave a mouse doesn't necessarily mean 
that you know how to make good media." 
Many leaders of service organizations 
agree that one benefit they can continue 
to provide for their members is a venue for 
showing new work. Despite the enormous 
popularity of independent films in recent 
years, most movies never reach an 
audience. Filmmakers who continue to 
work at the lowest end of the spectrum 
struggle for exposure, and groups like IFP 
can do enormous good by regularly 
screening their work. 

Whatever the future of IFP West, the 
changes afoot are symptomatic of some- 
thing the whole industry must come to 
grips with. Independent filmmakers are no longer outsiders, and 
their work is not being ignored. Many indies have the budgets 
and profit margins of studio vehicles. There are countless pro- 
duction companies devoted to making these films, and film 
schools are churning out more eager graduates every year. Will 
groups like the IFP cater increasingly to this high profile group or 
will they remain committed to the lowliest filmmakers, the mav- 
ericks who make $5,000 films funded entirely on credit card 
debt? Do they even have to choose? 

Perhaps in the near future there can be a group where everyone 
finds a home. & 



Just before this magazine went to press, IFP/LA announced that it 
had in fact decided to break from the five other IFP branches, and 
will now operate under the new name of Film Independent (FIND). 
The five other branches are expected to stay unified. 




June 2005 I The Independent 39 




BY NICK SCHAGER 



"Get on the ground, motherfuckers," declares Wayne Coyne, 
directing two somewhat confused kids to lie on their chests in 
the dingy kitchen of a Vietnamese noodle bar. 

The lead singer for psychedelic post-punk rock band The 
Flaming Lips, Coyne isn't perpetrating a hold-up but is reenact- 
ing a 1977 gunpoint robber)' he experienced while employed at 
the eatery — which, at the time, had been a Long John Silver's 
fast food restaurant where he worked as a $60-a-week fry cook 
(and where, because of his 12-year tenure, he earned a diamond 
pin for long service). With lively good humor and a trace of 
mischievousness, Coyne races through the back room, pointing 
out the entry and exit routes used by the daring daylight crooks 
while remembering how close he had once come to being a sta- 
tistic. "I just thought, 'My god, this is really how you die," he 
says. "One minute you're just cooking up someone's order of 
french fries, and the next minute you're laying on the floor and 
they blow your brains out. And there's no music, there's no sig- 
nificance — it's just random." 

Beautifully capturing the essence of The Flaming Lips and 



their wonderfully weird music — unpredictable, eccentric, 
slightly insane, and laced with equal measures of joy and sor- 
row — this early scene is the highlight of Bradley Beesley's The 
Fearless Freaks, a sterling documentary about the life and times 
of the Oklahoma-bred band. As Coyne later recalls during a 
phone conversation from his Oklahoma City home, the near- 
death experience wound up being a formative catalyst for his 
subsequent career as the frontman for one of America's most 
unique and idiosyncratic rock and roll outfits. 

"Immediately after it happened, you get this sense that you've 
been given a whole new life, and now you can do whatever you 
want," he says, describing how the area had been plagued by fast 
food restaurant murders and that it therefore wouldn't have 
been uncommon to be killed while deep frying chicken. "For 
the next couple of weeks, [I had] the idea that, why not do what 
you want to do? What's the worst that can happen? That you get 
humiliated and people make fun of you? I was like, I can han- 
dle that. I just had a gun shoved up to my temple by these 



40 The Independent I June 2005 



What a Long, Freaky 

Head- Trip 

It's Been 

BRADLEY BEESLEY'S THE FEARLESS 

FREAKS 



y iv 



-•im 



FLAMING LIPS 



THF FFARLE55 




pissed-off robbers. If people laugh at me, I don't care." 

Such a go-for-broke, devil-may-care spirit of adventurousness 
is indicative of not only The Flaming Lips — whose eclectic cat- 
alog spans from 1 986s Here It Is to 2002's Yoshimi Battles the 
Pink Robots, including the unique 1997 four-CD album 
Zaireeka that required fans to listen to all lour discs concurrent- 
ly — but also Beesley s fascinating new documentary, which pre- 
miered at this year's South by Southwest Festival and made its 
DVD debut last month through Shout! Factory releases. 
Overflowing with behind-the-scenes footage and forthright 
interviews with the band, which also includes bassist Michael 



Ivins and drummer/instrumentalist Steven Drozd, the film is a 
kaleidoscopic pastiche ol candid conversations and surprising 
confessions that chart the band's 22-year evolution from small- 
town novelty act (originally Ironted by Wayne's brother Mark in 
1983) to one-hit wonder (with 1994's MTV hit "She Don't Use 
Jelly") to 2003 Grammy award-winners (for Best Rock 
Instrumental Performance). A loving portrait made from the 
inside out, it's a funny and touching rock doc more interested 
in its subjects' personal stories than with regurgitating concert 
lootage and music videos, imbued with an intimacy rarely 
found in a genre all-too-often dominated by shallow, exploita- 
tive "Behind the Music "-style fluff. 

Beesley, a documentarian from Austin, Texas, cut his film- 
making teeth working with the Lips in 1992 as a student at the 
University of Oklahoma, where he attended the same art school 
as Coyne's then-girlfriend (and now wife) Michelle. "I hap- 
pened to be the guy who owned a motion picture film camera 
instead of a video camera, and Wayne was the guy in town who 
had enough money to shoot motion picture film, so I sort of 
spent my college years experimenting with Wayne on the 
[band's] music videos," he says. Not content with merely work- 
ing on these low-budget videos, Beesley, whose interest always 
strayed toward experimental cinema verite filmmaking, would 
shoot everything and anything he could while around the band: 
downtime in the studio and on the band's video sets, Coyne 
family parties, backstage tour shenanigans, and random cine- 
matographic tests with Coyne that included putting Christmas 
lights inside the camera ("To see if we could get some weird lens 
flare flicker effect") and squirting bleach on the film itself. 



June 2005 I The Independent 41 



Beesley and the Lips' relationship flourished thanks in part to 
their shared interest in out-there audaciousness. "We fueled 
each other's fire," Beesley says. In agreement, Coyne says, "He's 
always doing something interesting, and I'm always needing 
help. So it works out good." 

In 1999, Beesley, realizing he had accumulated roughly 400 
hours of unused footage, put together a 45-minute short film 
entitled The Flaming Lips Have Landed that played at SXSW in 
2000, and shortly thereafter decided that he had enough mate- 
rial for a feature film. He set about conducting interviews with 
the band, former members, and admirers (including Liz Phair, 
The White Stripes' Jack White, and The Butthole Surfers' Gilby 
Clarke), while also looking into bizarre stories from Coyne and 
Drozd's pasts (such as the Long John Silver scene) that he'd long 
wanted to investigate. Because of Beesley's regular attendance at 
holiday gatherings, as well as his collaboration with Coyne (as 
director of photography) on projects such as the singer's direc- 
torial debut, Christmas on Mars — an independent film about 
the red planet's first yuletide celebration starring the Lips which, 
as of this article's writing, is still being shot in the singer's back- 
yard — the band's relatives were familiar with his tendency to 
regularly show up in the neighborhood with a film camera. So 
he had little trouble convincing Coyne's mother, his brothers 
Tommy and Kenny, and Drozd's brother James to participate. 
James, the day after being released from prison, joined in an 
impromptu jam session alongside his brother Steven and his 
saxophone-playing father Vernon. 

Beesley's explanation for focusing less on concert clips and 
more on the band members' peculiar backstories and amusing 
anecdotes — including the story behind Coyne's penchant for 
performing with a bloody forehead (it involves an inspirational 
Miles Davis photo) and his methodical technique for cleaning 
said blood off his trademark white suits — is simple. "There's 
only so much live footage and so many music videos people can 
take," he says. Of particular interest to Beesley was the fact that 
the down-to-earth Coyne still lives among crack dealers and 
prostitutes in the dilapidated Oklahoma City ghetto in which 
he grew up, residing with his wife and dogs mere miles away 
from his relatives. "I thought it was more important to the story 
that this guy could have gone to LA or New York like everybody 
else, but he stayed in the same neighborhood he grew up in, and 
continues to live there," he says. The director's interest in the 
Lips' strange childhoods was further bolstered by the discovery 
that Coyne's brother Kenny possessed countless hours of Super 
8 home movies of the family's football games (their team's name, 
The Fearless Freaks, gives Beesley's doc its title), as well as by 
hearing stories about the singer's wild youthful exploits. One 
such tale cut from the final film depicts a 12-year-old Coyne 
taking off to California on the back of a motorcycle with his 
brothers, only to realize he's forgotten to bring shoes along for 
the trip. 

Coyne admits that if another filmmaker had approached him 
with plans for such a probing documentary he probably would 
have bristled at the idea. However, his relationship with Beesley, 
as well as his faith in the filmmaker's abilities, gave him no rea- 




Wayne Coyne performing with The Flaming Lips (Shout! Factory) 



son to object to the project. "You build a kind of honesty and 
an ego-less partnership" after years of working together, says 
Coyne. "And Bradley really does have a knack for finding that 
universal human story within the context of all this stuff that 
you think should be exciting." Stuff, presumably, like the Lips' 
carnivalesque live shows, which feature Coyne using fake blood 
to simulate head wounds, naked female dancers, musicians in 
furry animal costumes, and the singer "walking" on the crowd 
inside a giant translucent bubble. "It's the things that he thinks 
are funny and poignant, that's the part that I really trust," he 
says. Given Beesley's prior focus on small, character-driven sto- 
ries in 2000's Hill Stomp Hollar and 200 Is Okie Noodling (both 
of which feature music by The Flaming Lips), Coyne was sure 
that the filmmaker's interest in making The Fearless Freaks had 
less to do with the band's recent surge in popularity over the 
past half-decade than with his continued fascination with weird, 
colorful people. "I knew that Bradley would make a film that 
made us look far better than we really are," he says. "And he 
would have it [focus on] the human element, not that we're rock 
stars and that we make a lot of money." 

The Lips' trust in Beesley is most clearly felt in a stunning 
third-act showstopper shot in 2001 in which Drozd, a serious 
heroin addict during the previous six years, walks Beesley 
through the process of shooting up while lucidly detailing his 
path to junkiedom. Shot in stark black-and-white close-ups that 
convey a sense of palpable immediacy — a stylistic choice 
Beesley admits was largely due to good luck: "I think it was just 
because I had black-and-white film stock in the fridge left over 
from Wayne" — the scene came about after Drozd, who had 
recently sold his car for a paltry couple of hundred dollars, 
repeatedly called the filmmaker trying to borrow cash for drugs. 
"I was like, 'All right, I'll give you S50, but you have to let me 



42 The Independent I June 2005 



film you shooting up,'" Beesley says. '"And not only do you 
have to do that, but you have to talk about where you re at right 
now, how you got there, why you're there, and really think 
about this stuff as you're telling me.'" 

The resulting scene finds Drozd candidly, and harrowingly, 
expounding on his first foray into mainlining heroin, the phys- 
ical sensation of a smack high, and the terrible cost of his addic- 
tion (his girlfriend had just left him at the time of the film- 
ing) — all as he struggles to find a viable vein to inject. Yet 
despite the moment being intensely personal and private, 
Beesley felt that, considering Drozd's subsequent ability to kick 
his habit, the scene had to make the film's final cut. "That was 
probably the second to last time he shot up, so I'm proud to 
have captured it," he says. "Knowing that he's been clean since 
2001 when we shot that, I think it made everyone feel good 
about the story, to have some closure. And it would be remiss of 
me not to [include it], since it was such a huge part of their his- 
tory for six years — this genius musician on heroin — and had 
such a profound effect on the band." 

Coyne remembers Drozd's drug use becoming so severe that 
"there'd be times when I thought he was probably never going 
to get over this, and he'll be a toothless old man that won't have 
anything to show for all this great music he's been able to cre- 
ate." With Drozd now sober, however, Coyne admits he doesn't 
even think about such dire possibilities, and the enthusiastic 
reaction to the scene at the packed SXSW premiere — which 
Coyne says was an "awesome" experience in which he became 
caught up in the moviegoing audience's excitement — simply 
reconfirmed his initial feeling that the scene was a necessary 
component of Beesley 's cinematic biography. "Our story really 
is a wonderful, wonderful story," Coyne says. "It's not without 
its hard moments, and I'm sure we'll have more to come. And I 
can tell people this is the absolute truth. This isn't some exag- 
geration that people are trying to look cool by. I'm here to tell 
you, this is a real guy and these are real drugs and this is a real 
story. We're living proof that, as bad as it can be, it's also as good 
as it can turn out." 

Such unvarnished honesty, in fact, is perhaps the overriding 
sense one gets from The Fearless Freaks, which may craft its own 
version of The Flaming Lips story but is nonetheless imbued 
with an unblinking candor and authenticity similar to that 
found in the Lips' emotionally charged music. It's an impression 
Coyne — a rock and roll star who comes across throughout the 
film (as well as during interviews) as simultaneously larger-than- 
life and imminently approachable — is eager to promote. 
Returning to a discussion of his life-affirming run-in with mor- 
tality at Long John Silver's, Coyne says he thinks "mostly what 
people fear is that other people won't understand them. And I 
just know if you tell the absolute truth and just don't let there 
be any options [as to what's real and what's fictional], people 
will relate to you. We don't want people to think that some PR 
firm has gotten together with us and told us, 'This is the best 
story to tell.' I want to be believed. I want people to trust me." 
Thanks to Beesley's affectionate, illuminating, and persuasive 
documentary, Coyne has nothing to worry about. •& 




Band members Wayne, Richard, Mark, and Michael 
(J. Michelle Martin-Coyne) 




Beesley with Coyne: Filming Christmas on Mars 
(Shout! Factory) 




Flaming Lips: Michael, Wayne, and Nathan 
(J. Michelle Martin-Coyne) 



June 2005 I The Independent 43 



Portlands 

Creative Class 

Behind the Scenes at PDX 



BY BRIAN LIBBY 

Matt McCormick bristles a little when he hears 
someone mention that this is the third year of 
the Portland Documentary and Experimental 
Film Festival (PDX). For McCormick, festival 
curator and a well-regarded filmmaker, the PDX Fest stretches 
back to 1996, when his Peripheral Produce screening series 
debuted in local punk rock clubs and industrial warehouses — 
when contemporary filmmakers like Miranda July, whose film 
Me and You and Everyone We Know won a Special Jury Prize at 
Sundance this year, and Sam Green, whose documentary The 
Weather Underground was nominated last year for an Academy 
Award, 'y^ceived some of their first exposure. Today, Peripheral 
Produce is Comprised not only of the PDX Festival, but also a 
thriving distritHition company for experimental film and video 
on DVD. 

The PDX Fest has, become an internationally recognized 
mid-tier festival, which was held in April at the Guild Theatre 
in Portland, Oregon and included about 88 different film and 
video shorts and features. And with Peripheral Produce the 
organization, helped galvanize the grassroots, do-it-yourself cul- 
ture once restricted to music but with the rise of affordable 
video production equipment in recent years, has extended to 
the screen. "You can't go three weeks in Portland without there 
being some kind of [film] festival," McCormick says, noting 
that locally, PDX follows the Portland International Film 
Festival, the Portland Jewish Film Festival, and the Longbaugh 
Film Festival offered by local alternative paper Willamette Week. 
"l^hink 
happem? 

When hes not 
tion side of Peripheral- "Fro 
maker^ has- screened at many festivSaflk^SPing Sundance, 
Rotterdam, the New York Underground, and the New York 
Film Festival. His most recent films. The Subconscious Art of 





rtist Adil Hoxur in 
e Sky, which screened at PDX 
(Deborah Stratman) 



44 The Independent I June 2005 




Scott Coleman Miller's Usto Justo was one of the festival's experimental shorts 



Graffiti Removal (2002), and Toudines (2005), have particularly 
found favor while touring around the world. When Peripheral 
Produce began, McCormick was able to curate screening events 
largely because he was able to approach filmmakers as a peer. 
And indeed, before Miranda July and other celebrated local 
artists like Vanessa Renwick were Peripheral Produce regulars, 
there were a whole host of artists whom McCormick befriend- 
ed while touring with his own work. 

Unlike a previous generation of experimental filmmakers 
who came of age during the 60s and on through the 80s, 
McCormick is, while not out to make a buck per se, neverthe- 
less more open to the notion that being a small businessperson 
and a respected artist need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, he 



says, running Peripheral Produce as a company unbound to 
government or foundation grants means all the more independ- 
ence to run his art and his institution the way he wants. 

Certainly the spread of DIY punk rock ethic to filmmaking 
and its corresponding microcinemas is happening on some level 
in virtually every American metropolis. Cities like Austin, 
Baltimore, and Chicago all have particularly healthy film com- 
munities. But things seem to have particularly crystallized in the 
Rose City because of its high ratio of what is now commonly 
referred to as the "creative class" — a phrase that originated with 
the 2002 Richard Florida book, The Rise of the Creative Class. 

With its picturesque natural surroundings, its place on the 
West Coast (the natural end to many a migration, be it 200 



June 2005 I The Independent 45 




Matt McCormick is festival curator and a well-regarded 
filmmaker (courtesy of Matt McCormick) 




John Hawkes and Miranda July (who first screened her 
work at the Peripheral Produce series) in Me and You and 
Everyone WeKnow(\fC Films) 



years ago in a covered wagon or today after the college spring 
semester ends), and its relative affordability compared to Seattle 
or San Francisco, Portland is home to countless 20-somethings 
with an eagerness to explore and ultimately prove their artistic 
mettle without compromising the integrity they see lost all 
around them amid a hugely omnipresent commercial media 
culture. 

"People come to Portland to drop out but keep a hand in," 
says Shawn Levy, film critic for the Oregonian daily newspaper. 
"To do stuff that would be notable in most any city in the world 
but on a more homemade, personal level. To be engaged in their 
work but not invested in the business of it. Peripheral Produce 
is that vibe in a nutshell." 

Deborah Stratman, whose film The Great Art of Unknowing 
screened at this year's fest, says: "McCormick and Peripheral 
Produce have faith in the intelligence and curiosity of their 
audiences. They don't see any reason why independent films 
can't be as widely collected as independent music. I think Matt 
distributes and tours with that goal in mind.. .a world where 
people's video collections begin to rival their CD collections. 
And I really admire the ways that they chip away at dispelling 



the myth of 'marginal' work. To me, all of the films they pro- 
gram [at PDX Fest] are conduits to the complicated, seamy cen- 
ter of the contemporary socio-cultural Zeitgeist. This is work at 
the fulcrum, not on the margins." 

McCormick — who mines the industrial enclaves of urban 
America to find surprisingly poetic vistas — and Peripheral 
Produce label-mate Bill Brown — whose travelogues contem- 
plate history, politics, geography, and art with wit and unpre- 
tentious wisdom — ensure that many of the works collected on 
their videos and programmed at PDX appeal to a widespread 
audience. Too often people assume that because it does not 
rigidly adhere to the narrow classification of traditional narra- 
tive dramatic storytelling, experimental film is never to be 
understood, let alone beloved, by large audiences. But that sim- 
ply is not the case. 

"Experimental has always been a tricky term," says filmmak- 
er David Gatten from Ithaca, New York. "Avant garde, under- 
ground, alternative, personal, and experimental are all names 
given to a pretty diverse body of work. One of the things that 
I think PDX is always noteworthy for is the way they bring 
together all of these threads, showcasing really diverse kinds of 
experimental media side by side." 

Stratman says: "People say experimental film is undergoing a 
renaissance. But I think the whole universe of what we call exper- 
imental film is itself a continual renaissance. That's what experi- 
mental film is to me: a constant upheaval of cultural sedimenta- 
tion. A continual turning over and reinventing and poking into." 

And, of course, there was experimental and underground work 
happening long before Peripheral Produce came out — filmmak- 
ers like Maya Deren and Kenneth Anger were pioneers in the 
genre. But the difference between then and now is today's distri- 
bution opportunities and the chance for the work to be seen and 
obtained much more easily. Neither Deren nor Anger ever had 
the advantage of a company like Netflix, for example. And maybe 
they wouldn't have wanted that. Until the mid-1990s, most of the 
significant underground work was made on actual celluloid film. 
And to an extent, that continues to be the case today. But more 
crucial is the fact that regardless of its original format, most of the 
films were not available on video for sales and distribution. Even 
today there are filmmakers who refuse to have their films trans- 
ferred to video, particularly more academic and avant-garde 
artists like Peter Hutton and David Gatten, both of whose work 
has played at PDX but who will almost certainly never find a 
wider audience without video or digital duplication. It is all but a 
moral imperative for these artists that the adherence to celluloid- 
only projection be maintained. Otherwise, they believe, the work 
itself would be irrevocably compromised. 

Peripheral Produce, however, represents a more pragmatic con- 
stituency. Last year alone the company sold over 4,000 copies of 
various VHS and DVD units. Artists on Peripheral Produce's dis- 
tribution label include — in addition to McCormick, Brown, July, 
and Renwick — Brian Frye, Naomi Uman, Animal Charm, Bryan 
Boyce, and Negativland. In many cases, their work was created on 
video and therefore isn't subject to the dilemma of whether a 
transfer of video compromises artistic integrity. 



46 The Independent I June 2005 




POPaganda: The Art& Subversion of Ron English, screened at the opening night of the festival (Ron English) 



But Renwick, considered a maverick in Portland for her 
iconoclastic, very personal works that are mostly shot on film 
and transferred for distribution by Peripheral Produce, doesn't 
see the downside. 

"Having Matt put out my work has been great for me," 
Renwick says. "It gave me this product to sell at my shows that 
I didn't have before." And when you're an underground artist 
scratching and clawing to make a living, she says, that can be 
the difference between surviving and having to give up your 
dreams and take a day job. "It really gave me some more expo- 
sure," Renwick says. "Those videos have gotten around." Even 
though she tours all over the country, Renwick says many peo- 
ple are familiar with her work through seeing it on video. 

There is probably no better representation of the overall 
engaging spirit of the PDX Fest and the unique perspective of 
Peripheral Produce than its marquee event, the Peripheral 
Produce Invitationals. Billed cheekily as the "world champi- 
onship of experimental cinema," the Invitationals are a one- 
night screening of about 20 films, with all the competing 
artists in attendance and an audience vote for the winner at the 
end. Serious competition is not the predominant vibe, but 
rather camaraderie both between the artists and with their 
audience. 

Renwick, who won the first annual Invitationals, says the 
experience remains one of her favorite memories as a film- 
maker. "There were a lot of people from out of town, and we 



got to meet artists who we had only seen their work before," she 
recalls. "I have lots of friends around the country now that I first 
got to know from that show." 

Last year's Invitationals have become the stuff of legend in 
Portland, with the audience most delighted not by a traditional 
film or video, but Viewmasters — handmade circular slideshow 
cards courtesy of a local artist named Vladimir. At last year's 
Invitationals, Vladimir passed out her personal collection of 
Viewmasters to the audience (they had to be returned) and then 
led them through a reading of one of her slideshows (about a 
cockroach), complete with the traditional bell-ringing sound for 
when it was time to click the next image into view. 

"At one moment during the show," The Oregoniaris Levy 
recalls, "I looked around the theater and there were 380 
Portland hipsters, as jaded and cynical a lot as you'd find, star- 
ing into their Viewmasters like little kids with big, unrehearsed 
grins on their faces." 

There will always be those in the underground film commu- 
nity who resist the more populist experimental strain at the 
PDX Fest. Yet this is a festival run for the right reasons, behind 
the scenes, and year-round. And while the quality at any festival 
can vary greatly from film to film, the PDX Fest — whether 
considered in its third or ninth year — and Peripheral Produce, 
passionately and faithfully represent an admirable breadth of 
experimental film, it 



June 2005 I The Independent 47 




BY FIONA NG 



To most people, Jeff Skoll is the eBay guy. He was the 
first employee and first president of the online auction 
behemoth. With over $4 billion worth of eBay stock, 
he was named the third richest man under 40 in the 
country by Fortune magazine in 2004. What most people don't 
know about Skoll is that he is also a committed do-gooder. In 
1999, he founded The Skoll Foundation, which champions and 
invests in people who create positive changes in the world. Now, 
this well-heeled philanthropist is extending his humanitarianism 
to what some might consider the least conscientious, most bot- 
tom-line conscious of all industries: Hollywood. 

Skoll started Participant Productions, a production company 
based in Los Angeles, in January 2004. The thing that separates 
Participant from other film outfits its social mandate: to make 
films and documentaries addressing societal injustices that are as 
thoughtful in content as they are boffo in box office. Successful 
examples the company is fond of citing include blockbusters Erin 



An eBay- 

billionaire 

believes 

humanist 

films can sell 



48 The Independent I June 2005 




Brockovich (2000), Gandhi (1982), and Schindler's List (1993). 
The plan is to generate four to six films a year, with a budget 
between $5—40 million each. Unlike other production compa- 
nies, Participant will both co-finance and manage the produc- 
tions of these projects. 

Idealism aside, Skoll, the company's CEO, knows that he's still 
new to the business of entertainment. "The movie business is 
entirely different [from other businesses]," Skoll says. "It is a very, 
very relationship-driven business, and it's pretty vital to be able to 
know people, interact with them, spend time with them, and 
really be part of the social network." (Following his own advice, 
Skoll has been upping his profile in the film world — jurying for 
the documentary feature competition at last year's Tribeca, and, in 
keeping with Participant's mission, presenting Gandhi to a 
Palestinian audience in Ramallah in April.) Mindful of the indus- 
try's culture and the company's particular concerns, Skoll has 
assembled a team of players from Hollywood and beyond, includ- 
ing Jeff Ivers from MGM and the Motion Picture Corporation of 
America, erstwhile dot-comer Chris Adams, previously with 



Lycos and Amazon.com, former for-profit and nonprofit man- 
agement consultant Joanne Wilson, and Ricky Strauss, a 
Hollywood veteran who was anointed president of the company 
in March. 

Bringing to Participant his experience as an independent pro- 
ducer for Sony, Strauss foresees distribution as presenting the 
biggest challenge. "We are a brand new company, and we are 
doing something no one else has otherwise done before," Strauss 
says. "For most mainstream Hollywood theatrical distributors 
these are the harder movies to make money on. They present 
marketing challenges. They are not as popular on a studio slate. 
So [we thought] finding great material would somehow be easier 
than finding distributors to satisfy that appetite." 

So far, finding distributors has been nearly effortless for the 
company, given its slate of aspirant blockbusters and choice part- 
nerships with major studios and Indiewood outfits. Last year, 
Participant bought all the rights to Arna's Children, a documen- 
tary about a Palestinian activist who opened a theater group for 
kids in a refugee camp, and released it in October with 
THINKFilm. Also last year, Participant and Warner Bros, 
announced a three-picture co-financing deal. The first project 
Syriana, a spy thriller about the international oil trade and the 
Middle East (written by Traffic scribe Stephen Gaghan, produced 
by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney, and starring Clooney 
and Matt Damon is set to bow this fall.) The second film is yet 
another would-be tentpole about a group of woman minework- 
ers filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against the men they work 
with. The film, which is currently in production and untitled, 



June 2005 I The Independent 49 



stars a triumvirate of Oscar winners including Charlize Theron, 
Frances McDormand, and Sissy Spacek. The third project is 
Truce, to be helmed by House Of Sand And Fog director Vadim 
Perelman and is still in development. Other projects in develop- 
ment at Participant include Clooney's sophomore directorial 
effort, Good Night. And, Good Luck, the doc The World According 
to Sesame Street, and an adaptation of the bestseller memoir 
Reading Lolita in Tehran. 

Not a bad roster for the company's first year in business. But 
given its A-list affiliations, isn't it easy to assume that Participant's 
leanings are as correspondingly commercial? Given its social man- 
date, Strauss says Participant's vision is much more in line with 
the world of independent filmmaking, but stresses that to achieve 
their goal of creating and disseminating socially conscious mes- 
sages, bankability is very much apart of that. In short, meaning- 
ful (indie) films and commercial success should not be mutually 
exclusive. 

"I think we have to be commercially viable in order to reach 
the widest audience possible to effect the change, to create the 
awareness," Strauss says. "We probably have more of an inde- 
pendent spirit, but we still have to work in the mainstream mar- 
ketplace. Since we also do documentaries, by virtue of the medi- 
um, it puts us more on the independent landscape. Mainstream 
Hollywood needs a diversified slate. I would argue that we could 
and should be part of that slate. And I think there's enough room 
for both blockbusters, high concept mainstream blockbusters, 
and movies that are a bit more thoughtful or deliberate but no less 
entertaining." 

Because of its governing philosophy, Strauss says that 
Participant will continue to be open to independent filmmakers. 
"We are a great opportunity for independent filmmakers who 
have a story to tell, and I think we should be looked at as an 
appropriate door to knock on," he says. "They just have to be 
mindful of the fact that we have a specific mission, and if there 
are filmmakers, writers or actors with stories to tell that comple- 
ment that mission, we are a great home for them. [It's about] hav- 
ing an opportunity to have a place to set up a project and ulti- 
mately make a movie or a doc that [filmmakers] are passionate 



about that wouldn't otherwise happen because the studio would 
not want to take on the burden of developing and releasing a film 
that is more challenging than others." 

Jeff Skoll adds, "The world of independent film is a little bit 
freer of that kind of commercial, mass-market influence that 
guide so many decisions for studios. I think from an economic 
standpoint, you also see these filmmakers being a little bit more 
financially responsible because oftentimes it is people doing this 
on their own nickel." 

But before you can direct your humanist and entertaining 
script, show off your skills at maximizing a shoestring budget, or 
even have your project looked at, you'll need an agent. Almost all 
of the projects Participant looks at come from agents, managers, 
or film festivals, and they tend to be in the beginning stages of 
pre-production. Unsolicited submissions are not accepted. The 
selection process is rigorous, says Chris Adams, Participant's chief 
vision officer and senior vice president of business development. 
The submitted project is looked at first by the selection commit- 
tee, which composed the company's board of advisors. After that, 
it goes through creative, business, and marketing — in that order. 
Lastly, it goes to Jeff Skoll who makes the ultimate decision based 
on the quality of the project and its social significance. Adams 
walks through the checklist: "The first step is accessing the mate- 
rial for its compliance with our mandate. Is it on point, meaning 
does it have social relevance? Does it have commercial viability? 
The point is to identify the pictures on the creative side. It's all 
about the story. Then to analyze them ferociously because we 
want to see how the picture is being packaged. Our bottom line: 
we have two. We want a social return and a financial return on 
our investment." 

To ensure some of Participant's films a wide release, the 
company has teamed up with distribution partners like Warner 
Bros, and IFC Films. Adams says that the studios will always be 
more concerned with the financial aspect, and that's OK. "We 
like to make money, and we don't like to lose money, but our 
partner is always about money," he says. "We are celebratory of 
making money but we are more happy to see that the films are 
beins seen." 



50 The Independent I June 2005 




Linda Cardellini and Donald Sutherland star in Participant Productions's American Gun, written and directed by Aric 
Avelino, to be released by IFC (Sam Emerson) 



One film that managed to jump through all the selection 
hoops is American Gun, a mosaic of stories about how the prolif- 
eration of guns in the country affect different lives, written and 
directed by first-timer Aric Avelino. Avelino and his producer Ted 
Kroeber had been shopping the script around for three years 
when Avelino met Skoll at a Sundance industry party in 2003. 
The two talked about film and each others pet projects. Avelino 
says he was shocked at how much of a film buff Skoll is. "If you 
don't know who Jeff Skoll is, he's just the eBay guy," Avelino says. 
"[But] he is just so enthusiastic about film." When Avelino 
returned to Los Angeles, he received a call from Participant to 
work on a rewrite for another film. After that came another call 
asking to see the script for American Gun, and shortly after a deal 
was struck. IFC Films will distribute the film. 

Before meeting up with Skoll, Avelino says the film's contro- 
versial subject matter (one storyline is about the^aftermath of a 
high school shooting) is what turned a lot of studio execs away 
from the project, despite interest from and eventually participa- 
tion by a list of venerable actors, including Donald Sutherland, 
Forest Whitaker, Linda Cardellini, and Marcia Gay Harden. "A 
lot of people wanted to commercialize it," Avelino says. "I think 
people were really taken aback by the boldness of the writing. We 
get a lot of 'we love the script, but we can't do it here. It's just too 
tough.' They were concerned with the budget, and that we could- 
n't do it on the budget we had." 

Making it an even tougher sell to Hollywood was that Avelino 
had never directed a full-length film before. The 27-year-old film- 



maker got his BA in theater arts from the Loyola Marymount 
University in Los Angeles, but not having comparable industry 
experience proved to be a setback until Participant came along. 
"It takes a special kind of company to say, 'Look, we know this is 
your first film. You are going to work this crazy ridiculous sched- 
ule. But we believe that you can do it.' And they did. They left 
me alone," Avelino says. 

Shooting began in July 2003, with a breakneck schedule of 24 
days over five weeks and is now in post-production. If everything 
goes as planned, American Gun will be the first Participant-pro- 
duced film to go public, which Avelino hopes will happen through 
festivals initially. "I think this is definitely a festival film — it's not 
like we are going to open in thousands of theaters," he says. "So it's 
important for people to see the film, talk about it. Hopefully more 
people will see it if they respond to the film festivals. 

For now, Participant's fortune still remains unclear, and at a 
time when everyone wants to be part of the glamour that is 
Hollywood, legitimacy doesn't come easy to an upstart produc- 
tion company headed by an ex-dot-com billionaire with well- 
meaning intentions. Skoll is humble but optimistic about the 
future success of his company. "I think Hollywood has a history 
of people who've been successful in traditional business and com- 
ing to town and just failing miserably," he says. "Most industry 
people are skeptical when somebody comes here to make movies 
or to pursue an agenda of some kind, as I am. Credibility can only 
come with time and actual success — of actually doing good films 
and good projects. Hopefully we are on our way." -k 



June 2005 I The Independent 51 



Roger Corman's 
How-To 

An unusual manual for tomorrow's 
filmmakers 



§> 



INCLUDES DVD 

WITH 6 NEW FILMS FROM TODAY'S 
HOTTEST YOUNG DIRECTORS! 



By Lisa Selin Davis 

Roger Corman, progenitor of the 
American B-movie and a kind of 
walking, solo "Star Search"/ 
"American Idol" for the film industry, is 
the perfect spokesperson for the 
Chamberlain Bros. International Student 
Film Festival. Having launched the 
careers of everyone from Martin Scorsese 
to Francis Ford Coppola to John Sayles, 
James Cameron, Peter Bogdanovich and 
Jonathan Demme, Corman is still, at age 
79, on the prowl for raw film talent. This 
is the man you want to see your work 
when you come out of film school, and, 
if your film is ever lucky enough to be 
chosen by the Chamberlain Bros, 
panelists for what will from now on be an 
annual student festival (Corman is not 
involved in the selection process), he'll be 
watching. Maybe hell even throw you a 
small directing job — something to shoot 
in the second-unit, say. 

But the Chamberlain Bros. Intern- 
ational Student Film Festival which ran 
from March 31 to April 2, offers some- 
thing besides Corman's presence. Not 
only was the festival an actual event — 
three nights during which six chosen 
films were screened theatrically and, at 
the premiere, introduced by Corman — 
but it's also a book. With an introduction 
by Corman and short chapters and 
interviews with the filmmakers conduct- 
ed by Kimberley Brown, the book 
(Chamberlain Bros., $14.95) includes a 
DVD of all six films. This means, for the 
filmmakers, that their films will be 
distributed widely, if not theatrically, and 
that any number of industry profession- 
als and aspiring filmmakers will have a 
chance to review their work. 

If you're neither an agent nor a talent 
scout — those who have to scour the 
streets and film schools searching for new 
faces and new ideas — you might wonder 



how this book/DVD 
might help you in your 
own quest to become a 
filmmaker. First of all, it 
shows you what film exec- 
utives and talent evaluators 
are looking for. Corman 
has professed admiration 
for each of the films; you'll 
be able to see just what it is 
he looks for in terms of 
"early talent." And perhaps 
watching the best six out 
of 500 entries might give 
you just the ego boost you 
need. Maybe you'll look at 
these works and say, "I can 
do better than that." 

Secondly, the book offers a meditation 
on the value of film school itself. Other 
than the chance to enter student film 
contests such as this one, why spend as 
much money on tuition as you could on 
a film of your own? Why enter the indus- 
try via the Corman method — by starting 
as a messenger boy on the Fox lot? (He 
did, however, attend Beverly Hills High 
School with the children of a Fox VP.) 
There are more than 10,000 students 
graduating from film schools each year, he 
writes, and only jobs for a few of them, yet 
it costs the same as law school or medical 
school (degrees that will lead to actual 
employment). Isn't there an easier, less 
espensive and time-consuming way? 

Corman says it's worth the cash for 
several reasons. The studio system has 
changed, and it's not so easy to start out 
in the mailroom and make your way to 
president these days. You need a film, he 
says, to work as a "very expensive calling 
card." You get connections (and, if you 
find yourself at one of the big three film 
schools— USC, UCLA or NYU— 
chances are industry folks will show up at 




CHAMBERLAIN BROS. 

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT 

film festival 



INTRODUCTION BY 



ROGER CORMAN 



KIMBERLEY BROWN 



the screenings). You get access to equip- 
ment and to cast and crew. And, most 
importantly, you are immersed in the 
depth and breadth of film history, learn- 
ing from the great filmmakers who came 
before you. 

This last point might puzzle some who 
view the films in this collection or who 
read their interviews. The filmmakers 
don't seem to be as influenced by the his- 
torical greats as they do by recent 
cinematic sensations. Observe this sam- 
ple of the filmmakers' favorite films: The 
Karate Kid (1984), Wonder Boys (2000), 
E. T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982), This Is 
Spinal Tap (1984), Election (1999), 
Magnolia (1999), The Lord of the Rings 
(2001), The Matrix (1999), The Passion 
of the Christ (2004), American Beauty 
(1999), and Bull Durham (1988). Yes, 
one filmmaker cites Bull Durham as one 
of the films most important to her. The 
only older films mentioned are The 
Graduate ( 1 967) , Casablanca ( 1 942) , and 
Rear Window (1954), and the filmmakers 
cite influences such as Cameron Crowe 
and Paul Thomas Anderson. What kind 



52 The Independent I June 2005 



of education are they getting that they are 
not affected by the films that inspired 
their favorite directors? 

"You're always influenced by the 
generation that comes before you," 
explains Corman, "but you should be 
aware of and influenced by the entire his- 
tory of films. Its like a writer not men- 
tioning Shakespeare as an influence." 

The DVD includes Toxin, a thriller by 
undergraduate Chris Folkens; Zeke, a 
comedy by Dana Buning about a 
neutered cat taking revenge on its owner; 
The Reunion, Ben Epsteins romantic 
comedy about a fateful meeting between 
a businesswoman and the homeless man 
who used to be her boyfriend; The 
Plunge, another romantic comedy, by 
Todd Schulman, about a man working 
up the courage to propose; and the best 
of the American crop, Perils in Nude 
Modeling, a dark comedy about a Nazi- 
esque drawing professor and the student 
and model who fall in love despite him, 
by Scott Rice. 

The best film of the group, 
Enlightenment, is by Thai filmmaker 
Tanon Sattarujawong (whose presence 
legitimizes the title of "international film 
festival"), who cites such influences as the 
great Iranian filmmaker Abbas 
Kiarostami, and Edward Yang, director of 
Yi Yi (2000). 

Corman is not bothered by what some 
in the audience saw as the lack of origi- 
nality or vision in the films. In fact, 
Corman said he found the proliferation 
of comedies refreshing. "There's an 
attempt generally to be Ingmar 
Bergman," he said of young filmmakers. 
His remark begs the question: Would you 
rather see another generation of Autumn 
Sonata, or would you like a new crop of 
Die Hard derivatives? But Corman is the 
foremost expert on spotting inchoate 
talent. How many among us would have 
known from their early work that Sayles 
and Demme and Scorsese were capable of 
cinematic greatness? 

Of course, books on Sayles and 
Demme and Scorsese would be of inter- 
est to us because these directors have 
already accomplished so much. Most of 
these youngsters have not yet been 
around the block and are not yet in a 



position to reflect on the long journeys of 
their careers. But for students just start- 
ing out, it might be a useful manual for 
what lies ahead or for what you're getting 
yourself into if you do sign up for film 
school. 

The book is also a boon to some of the 
lesser-known film schools. One film 
came out of Florida State University, and 
another one from the University of 
Illinois at Urbana/Champaign (a school 
with no actual film program), which 
proves that it's an equal opportunity 
festival and not just a feeder from the big 
three straight into the industry. 

The reason Corman didn't attend film 
school all those years ago is simple: he 
didn't know they existed. Now that there 
are more than 20 film programs all over 
the country, he says if he had to do it all 
over again, he'd go to film school. We're 
living in what Corman says is probably 
the hardest time for independent film- 
makers in his 50-plus years in the indus- 
try. "I can't hit a home run," he said, 
referring to the difficulty of getting the- 
atrical releases in this time of corporate 
consolidation, when the theaters and stu- 
dios, even the concessions stands, are all 
in handshaking agreements at the highest 
level, making it nearly impossible for the 
independents to squeeze in. 

The Chamberlain Bros. International 
Film Festival book/DVD does give these 
kids a chance to at least hit a single. It 
also makes the experience of reading 
about filmmaking less academic and 
more hands-on — you can read about the 
process of filmmaking, and then actually 
watch the film discussed. It's a trend 
that's growing and not just a gimmick. If 
anything, perhaps it will get more people 
to read, and it represents a potential 
revolution in film distribution, albeit it a 
quiet one. 

The book and DVD purport to offer 
films from "today's hottest young direc- 
tors," a claim that's a good deal mislead- 
ing. What they mean, I think, is, "tomor- 
rows hottest young directors." Perhaps 
we'll see their names on the next Roger 
Corman picture. "I wouldn't give them a 
feature to direct," he says. "But I'd trust 
them with something small." it 



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edited by Rania Richardson 

What You'll Find: 

1 Up-to-date profiles of close to 200 
distributors, supplemented by "how 
to" articles, selected reprints from 
The Independent, and in-depth inter- 
views with over 20 distributors. 

1 Published to order, ensuring the most 
current information that's available. 



Order online at 
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June 2005 I The Independent 53 



R 



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DOMESTIC 

ANGELUS AWARDS STUDENT FILM FESTIVAL 

Oct. 23, CA. Deadline: July 1. College/Film 
School competition takes place at the DGA 
in California. Cats: feature, doc, short, 
animation, student. Formats: 1/2", 3/4", S- 
VHS, DVD. Preview on VHS, 3/4" (NTSC 
only). Entry Fee: $25 . Contact: Monika 
Moreno: (800) 874-0999; fax: 874-1168; 
mfo@angelus.org; www.angelus.org. 

ANNAPOLIS FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 1114, MD. 
Deadline: June 3; June 24; July 8 (final). A 
four-day fest showcasing independent films 
& documentaries produced by local & nat'l 
filmmakers. Its mission is to "celebrate the 
capacity of independent film to move us, 
teach us & entertain us." Cats: feature, doc, 
short, animation. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP, 
DV, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: $25-$50. Contact: Festival; (410) 263- 
2388; fax: 263-2629; info@annapolisfilmfesti 
val.com; www.annapolisfilmfestival.com. 

ASPEN FILMFEST, Sept. 28-Oct. 2, CO 
Deadline: July 8. With an emphasis on inde- 
pendent productions from around the world, 
this fall fest champions "filmmaking at its 
finest". Founded: 1979. Cats: feature, doc, 
family, children, animation. Awards: Non- 
Competitive. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, Beta 
SP, U-matic, DigiBeta. Preview on VHS 
(NTSC or PAL) or DVD. Entry Fee: $35. 
Contact: Laura Thielen; (970) 925-6882; 
fax: 925-1967; filmfest@aspenfilm.org; 
www.aspenfilm.org. 

AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 20-27. TX. 



Deadline: June 1 5; July 1 5 (final). Fest is ded- 
icated to the writer as the heart of the cre- 
ative process of filmmaking & uncovers out- 
standing, emerging writers, fostering their 
development through panels, workshops & 
master classes conducted by professionals. 
Founded: 1994. Cats: feature, short, student, 
script. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, DigiBeta, 
Beta SP. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
$40; $50 (final). Contact: Lisa Albracht; (800) 
310-FEST/ (512) 478-4795; fax: 478-6205; 
film@austinfilmfestival.com; www.austin 
filmfestival.com. 

AUSTIN GAY & LESBIAN INT'L FILM FESTIVAL 

Sept. 31 -Oct. 8, TX. Deadline: June 2. Fest is 
the oldest & largest fest in the Southwest. 
AGLIFF continues its mission to "exhibit 
high-quality gay & lesbian, bisexual & trans- 
gender films & videos that enlighten, edu- 
cate & entertain all communities." Founded: 
1986. Cats: Feature, Short, Children, Doc, 
Experimental, Animation. Formats: 35mm, 
1/2", DV, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: Mo Ratel; (512) 
302-9889; fax: 302-1088; film@agliff.org; 
www.agliff.org. 

BETHEL FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 25-30, NY 
Deadline: May 31; July 15 (final). Six days & 
nights of independent & int'l film that will be 
shown on multiple, concurrent screens at 
The Bethel Cinema, an established filmgoer 
mecca in affluent Fairfield County. Cats: 
feature, doc, short, student, animation. 
Awards: Cash & In-kind prizes. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, HD, DV Cam. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $20-$60. 
Contact: Carol Spiegel; (203) 790-4321; 



info@bethelfilmfestival.com; www.bethel 
filmfestival.com. 

CINEKINK NYC, Oct. 18-23, NY. Deadline: 
May 20; July 1 (final). Fest explores "a wide 
diversity of alternative sexuality incl. - but by 
no means limited to - S/M, leather & fetish, 
bondage & discipline, dominance & submis- 
sion, roleplay, swinging, polyamory & non- 
monogamy, & gender bending". Cats: fea- 
ture, doc, short, experimental, animation, 
any style or genre, music video. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, DVD, 1/2", Super 8. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $20; $30 
(final). Contact: Festival; info@cinekink.com; 
www.cinekink.com. 

COLUMBUS INT'L FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, 

Mid-November, OH. Deadline: July 1. 
Competitive fest w/ screenings of selected 
winners, founded in 1952, is one of the old- 
est non-theatrical showcases in country. 
Founded: 1952. Cats: feature, doc, experi- 
mental, short, animation, any style or genre, 
student, youth media, TV. Formats: CD- 
ROM, 1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $75 & up (professionals); $35-$50 
(students). Contact: Judy Chalker; (614) 444- 
7460; fax: same; info@chrisawards.org; 
www.chrisawards.org. 

CONEY ISLAND FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 30 Oct 
2, NY. Deadline: May 6; July 1 (final). Fest's 
mission is to raise funds for the non-profit 
arts organization Coney Island USA & to 
present a fun & unique program of films at 
the legendary Sideshows by the Seashore & 
Coney Island Museum venues. Cats: fea- 
ture, doc, short, animation, experimental, 



54 The Independent I June 2005 



music video. Formats: DV, 16mm, Super 8, 
35mm. Preview on VHS, DVD or Mini-DV. 
Entry Fee: $20; $25 (final). Contact: Festival; 
info@coneyislandfilmfestival.com; 
www.coneyislandfilmfestival.com. 

DUMBO SHORT FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, Oct 

14-16, NY. Deadline: June 1; Aug. 1 (final). 
Film & video event is part of the annual 
D.U.M.B.O. Art Under the Bridge Festival & 
is designed to showcase the work of inde- 
pendent & experimental film & videomakers 
living in NYCis five boroughs. Works must be 
30 min. or less. Founded: 1996. Cats: short, 
any style or genre. Formats: 16mm, 1/2", 
Mini-DV, DVD, Beta SP. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $15; $25 (final). Contact: 
D.U.M.B.O. Arts Center; (718) 694-0831; 
mail@dumboartscenter.org; www.dumb 
oartscenter.org. 

EUREKA INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 22 30, NY 

Deadline: May 20; June 17. Festival show- 
cases political & socially conscious films by 
filmmakers from all over the world, present- 
ing views that span the political spectrum. 
Fest celebrates the "freedom of expression" 
& will feature documentaries, fictional 
works, animations & political humor. 
Founded: 2005. Cats: feature, doc, 
animation, short. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, 
Beta SP. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
$25 shorts; $30 features. Contact: Festival; 
(212) 714-4617; info@eurekaiff.com; 
www.eurekaiff.ocm. 

GREAT LAKES INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL, 

Sept. 22-25, PA. Deadline: July 1 . Annual fest 
will takes place in the city of Erie, PA. 
Centrally located, Erie is only a short drive 
from the cities of Cleveland, Ohio, Buffalo, 
NY, & Pittsburgh, PA. Fest's goal is showcas- 
ing new independent films, recognizing 
outstanding filmmakers. Founded: 2002. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, animation, experi- 
mental. Formats: Beta SP, DVD. Preview on 
VHS (NTSC) or DVD. Entry Fee: $45-$85. 
Contact: Steve Opsanic; (814) 834-5069; fax: 
734-5402; fest@greatlakesfilmfest.com; 
www.greatlakesfilmfest.com. 

HAMPTONS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 19-23, 
NY. Deadline: May 10; June 7 (final). Now 
entering its 12th year, the fest offers diverse 
programming w/ breakout films by new 



directors, premieres by established filmmak- 
ers, panel discussions, special events w/ 
guests from the industry & awards worth 
over $200,000. Founded: 1993. Cats: fea- 
ture, short, doc, world cinema, films of 
conflict & resolution, student, youth media, 
family, children. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP, 
DigiBeta. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: shorts $35/$50; features, docs $50/$75. 
Contact: HIFF; (212) 431-6292; fax: 431- 
5440; programming@hamptonsfest.org; 
www.hamptonsfest.org. 

HARDACRE FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 5 6, I A 

Deadline: June 7. Fest recognizes excellence 
in independent cinema, w/ screenings at the 
art-deco Hardacre Theatre. Founded: 1997. 
Cats: Feature, Doc, Short, Animation, 
Experimental, Foreign, Student. Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, DV, DVD. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $15 (shorts under 60 mm.); $25 
(features). Contact: Festival; (563) 886-2175; 
fax: 886-2213; director@hardacrefilmfesti 
val.com ; www.hardacrefilmfestival.com. 

HAWAII INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, 20 

30, HI. Deadline: July 1. Annual fest is dedi- 
cated to promoting cross-cultural under- 
standing among peoples of Asia, N. America 
& the Pacific region through the presentation 
of features, docs & shorts dealing w/ rele- 
vant subject matter. In the past, fest has pre- 
sented over 200 films across six islands to 
over 65,000 people. Founded: 1980. Cats: 
feature, doc, short. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP. 
Entry Fee: $35; $50 (final). Contact: 
Anderson Le- ale@hiff.org, 1001 Bishop St. 
ASB Tower, Suite 745, Honolulu, HI 96813; 
808-528-3456; fax: 808-528-1410; 

info@hiff.org; www.hiff.org 

HIP-HOP ODYSSEY INT'L FILM FESTIVAL 
(H20), Nov. 13-19, NY. Deadline: June 1; July 
1 5 — (final). Fest showcases "the best of 
American & Int'l independent Hip-Hop cine- 
ma." The fest's mission is to create "cultur- 
al sustainability & industry longevity by sup- 
porting the use of Hip-Hop culture as a tool 
for social awareness & youth empower- 
ment". Cats: youth media, feature, doc, 
short, animation, experimental, PSA, music 
video. Entry Fee: $15-$30. Contact: Stacey 
L'Air Lee, Programming Director; (212) 500- 
5970; fax: 300-4895; stacey@hiphopassocia 
tion.org; www.h2oiff.org. 



IDA / DAVID L. WOLPER STUDENT AWARDS, 

Dec. 9, CA. Deadline: June 10. Int'l Doc 
Association student documentary achieve- 
ment award. Films & videos must be pro- 
duced by registered, matriculating stu- 
dents. The winning entry will be shown at 
IDA's annual DocuFest, a day long screening. 
Four Merit winners will be selected, but 
receive no cash prize. Cats: student, doc. 
Awards: $1,000 cash prize, plus $1,000 cer- 
tificate toward Eastman Kodak motion pic- 
ture film.. Formats: Any format is eligible, 
for initial judging, 1/2" NTSC format is pre- 
ferred.. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: $45. Contact: Festival; (213) 534-3600 
ext. 7438; fax: 534-3610; tracie@documen 
tary.org; www.documentary.org. 

IMAGEOUT: THE ROCHESTER LESBIAN & GAY 
FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, October 7 16, NY 
Deadline: July 1. Fest is "an exciting & 
important venue for lesbian, gay, & queer 
film- & videomakers." Last yr. fest screened 
over 40 programs, incl. more than 120 films 
& videos. Also features "Third Coast" call, 
highlighting filmmakers from the U.S. & 
Canada who live w/in a 200-mile radius of the 
Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Seaway. 
Founded: 1993. Cats: feature, doc, short, 
experimental, animation, youth media, music 
video, family. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 1/2", 
Beta SP, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: $10. Contact: Festival; (585) 271-2640; 
fax: 271-3798; imageout@rochester.rr.com; 
www.imageout.org. 

JACKSON HOLE WILDLIFE FILM FESTIVAL, 

Sept. 19-24, WY Deadline: June 1. Fest 
seeks films dealing w/ natural history, 
wildlife, conservation & related topics. 
Entries must have been completed w/in the 
past two years. Cats: natural history pro- 
gramming, doc. Formats: HD, DigiBeta, Beta 
SP, DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $50- 
200. Contact: Laura Johnson; (307) 733- 
7016; fax: 733-7376; info@jhfestival.org; 
www.jhfestival.org. 

LONG ISLAND GAY & LESBIAN FILM 
FESTIVAL, November 11-17, NY. Deadline: 
July 1; Aug. 15 (final). Entry Fee: $15; $25 
(final). Contact: Stephen Flynn; (631) 547- 
6650; fax: 547-6651; info@liglff.org; 
www.liglff.org. 



June 2005 I The Independent 55 



LOS ANGELES INT'L SHORT FILM FESTIVAL 
(LA SHORTS FEST), Sept. 7-13, CA. Deadline: 
May 17; June 17 (final). Fest dubs itself "the 
largest short film fest in the world,: Seeks 
Shorts, Features & Screenplays shorts 
(under 40 min.) & long shorts (40-60 min.), as 
well as feature-length works by directors 
who have previously completed a short film 
in their career. Founded: 1997. Cats: Short, 
Animation, Doc, Experimental, any style or 
genre, feature. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta 
SR DigiBeta. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: $45-$70. Contact: Robert Arentz, 
Founder & Festival Director; (323) 851- 
9100; info@lashortsfest.com; www.lashorts 
fest.com. 

MANHATTAN SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 
16-25, NY. Deadline: June 30 (scripts); July 
31. Once a yr. thousands of New Yorkers 
gather inside Union Square Park to watch 
short films. The fest will screen in over 30 
states across the country. Viewers will not 
only get the chance to view the next genera- 
tion of filmmakers but vote on them as well. 
Winner of the fest will be bought into a fea- 
ture film as director & that film will be dis- 
tributed to the very same venues that voted 
for the director. Founded: 1998. Cats: short, 
any style or genre, script. Formats: DigiBeta. 
Preview on VHS (NTSC/PAL). Entry Fee: $35; 
$25 (scripts). Contact: Nicholas Mason; 
(201) 969-8049; info@msfilmfest.com; 
www.msfilmfest.com. 

MILL VALLEY FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, Oct 6- 

16, CA. Deadline: April 1; June 30 (final). 
Invitational, noncompetitive fest screens 
films of all genres & lengths & has become a 
premiere West Coast event, bringing new & 
innovative works to Northern California audi- 
ences. Premieres & new works emphasized. 
Cats: Feature, Doc, Short, Interactive, 
Children, Animation, Experimental. Awards: 
Audience & Jury awards for shorts. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Beta SP Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $25; $30 (final). Contact: Zoe 
Elton; (415) 383-5256; fax: 383-8606; 
info@cafilm.org; www.cafilm.org. 

NEUSE RIVER FOUNDATION ENVIRONMENTAL 
FILM FESTIVAL, Oct. 21-22, NC. Deadline: 
July 1 . Fest features films that have water & 
it's relationship to the environment as a cen- 
tral theme. Founded: 2005. Cats: any style or 



genre, feature, doc, short, animation, experi- 
mental. Formats: DVD. Preview on VHS/DVD. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: Neuse River 
Foundation; (919) 856-1180; fax: 839-0767; 
jackie.nrf@att.net; www.neuseriver.org. 

NEW HAMPSHIRE FILM EXPO, Oct 14-16, 
NH. Deadline: July 1; Aug. 1 (final). NHFX is 
a community-inclusive event intended to 
enhance the ars arts & tourism aspects of 
NH. This is the state's largest film event, 
incl.: independent & student film screenings, 
tradeshow, young filmmaker's workshops & 
others. Cats: feature, doc, short, animation, 
student, any style or genre, script. Awards: 
Best: Feature, Drama Short, Comedy Short, 
Doc, Animation, Student. Formats: Beta SP, 
DVD, Mini-DV, VHS-NTSC, 1/2". Preview on 
VHS, Mini-DV or DVD. Entry Fee: $20-$45. 
Contact: NHFX; (603) 647-NHFX (6439); 
info@nhfx.com; www.nhfx.com. 

NEW JERSEY FILMMAKERS FESTIVAL, TBA, 

NJ. Deadline: June 1. Fest accepts films 
from New Jersey filmmakers. Run by under- 
ground & independent filmmakers dedicated 
to supporting & encouraging creative film- 
making. Cats: doc, feature, short, animation, 
experimental, music video, any style or 
genre. Formats: 16mm, 1/2", Beta SR Super 
8. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: c/o Paul Holgerson; (732) 545-5864; 
paulholgerson@hotmail.com. 

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 23-Oct. 9, 
NY. Deadline: July 16. The New York Film 
Festival is an annual fest which aims to 
demonstrate the development of int'l film art 
& contemporary trends in content, form & 
style. The Festival is non-competitive. No 
prizes are awarded. As a special event of the 
Festival, Views from the Avant-Garde takes 
place in the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln 
Center, a program of non-narrative experi- 
mental films of any length demonstrating 
innovative cinematic technique. Works can 
originally be shot on video or film, but you 
must have a 16mm or 35mm print for actual 
fest exhibition. Founded: 1962. Cats: fea- 
ture, doc, short, experimental, animation, 
student, any style or genre. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm. Preview on VHS, DVD or Print. Entry 
Fee: None. Contact: Sara Bensman; (212) 
875-5638; fax: (212) 875-5636; festival@film- 
linc.com; www.filmlinc.com. 



OHIO INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL, Nov, 
OH. Deadline: March 1; May 1; June 10 
(Final). Fest only accepts submissions w/out 
theatrical distribution & is programmed 
100% from those submissions. Founded: 
1 994. Cats: any style or genre, feature, short, 
doc, animation, experimental. Formats: 
16mm, S-8, 1/2", super 8, Beta SP. Preview 
on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $20 (shorts under 
15 min.); $35 (15 mm. & over); late fees 
are doubled; screenplays: $40; $60 (late). 
Contact: Annetta Marion & Bernadette 
Gillota; (216) 651-7315; fax: (216) 
651-7317; ohioindiefilmfest@juno.com; 
www.ohiofilms.com. 

OJAI FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 20-23, CA 
Deadline: June 1; July 1 (final). Theme: 
"Enriching the Human Spirit Through Film." 
Films & videos on all subjects in any genre 
are welcomed. Cats: feature, doc, short, ani- 
mation, student, any style or genre. Formats: 
35mm, Beta SP, Mini-DV, DV Cam. Preview 
on VHS (NTSC), DVD. Entry Fee: $25-$45. 
Contact: Steve Grumette, Artistic Director; 
(805) 649-4000; filmfestival@ojai.net; 
www.ojaifilmfestival.org. 

PORT TOWNSEND FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 23- 
25, WA. Deadline: April 30; May 30; June 1 5. 
Festival aims to showcase independent film- 
makers & films to provide creative activity for 
the public along w/ periodic classes & semi- 
nars. The emphasis is on providing a cre- 
ative experience & promoting films. 
Founded: 2000. Cats: feature, doc, short, 
animation. Formats: S-VHS, Beta SP, 35mm. 
Preview on VHS (PAL, NTSC) or DVD. Entry 
Fee: $15-$45. Contact: PTFF; (360) 379- 
1333 fax: 379-3996; info@ptfilmfest.com; 
www.ptfilmfest.com. 

PUTNAM COUNTY FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL 

Oct. 1-2, NY. Deadline: July 16. This regional 
film/video fest celebrates community media- 
making. Includes Gala Awards Ceremony & 
Dinner. Filmmakers must reside in NY State 
or project must have a strong connection to 
NY. Founded: 2001. Cats: trailers, works-in- 
progress, feature, doc, short, any style or 
genre, music video, animation, experimental, 
student. Formats: DV, Beta SP, Mini-DV, 
DVD, Betacam, DVCAM. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $25 under 59 mm.; $35 over 60 
mm.. Contact: Maryann Arrien, Festival 



56 The Independent I June 2005 



Director; (845) 528-7420; fax: (same); 
maryann@putnamvalleyarts.com; www. put 
namvalleyarts.com. 

QUITTAPAHILLA FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 30 
Oct. 2, PA. Deadline: July 1. Set in the 
Central Pennsylvania valley, just 20 mm. 
from Hershey, PA. Festival holds screenings 
at the historic Allen Theatre, w/ additional 
screenings in the Lebanon Valley College 
lawns. Founded: 2004. Cats: feature, doc, 
short. Awards: Cash Prizes. Formats: 16mm, 
35mm, DVD, Beta. Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $25. Contact: Jeff Ritchie/Skip 
Ebert; (717) 964-2222; todd.klick@clipper 
magazine.com; www.qfilms.org. 

REELING: CHICAGO LESBIAN & GAY INT'L 
FILM FESTIVAL, Nov. 3-10, IL. Deadline: July 
1 ; July 1 5. Annual fest seeks wide variety of 
lesbian, gay, bisexual, & transgendered films 
& videos for second oldest fest of its kind in 
the world. All genres & lengths accepted. 
Founded: 1981. Cats: Any style or genre, 
Feature, Experimental, Animation, Short, 
doc. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, 
DVD, 1/2", Mini-DV. Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: $15-$25. Contact: c/o Chicago 
Filmmakers; (773) 293-1447; fax: 293-0575; 
reeling@chicagofilmmakers.org; 
www.chicagofilmmakers.org. 

REHOBOTH BEACH INDEPENDENT FILM 
FESTIVAL, Nov. 9-13, DE. Deadline: June 19; 
July 15 (final). Fourth annual fest celebrates 
independent & foreign cinema in a pictur- 
esque coastal resort setting. Approx. 100 
entries will be selected for diverse program- 
ming in eight theaters. No repeat entries. 
Founded: 1998. Cats: feature, doc, anima- 
tion, experimental, children, short, gay & les- 
bian, student. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP, 
DVD, 1/2". Preview on VHS (NTSC, PAL) or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $20; $25 (final). Contact: 
David Gold; (302) 645-9095; fax: 645-9460; 
david@rehobothfilm.com; www.rehoboth 
film.com. 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN WOMEN'S FILM 
FESTIVAL, Nov. 4-6, CO. Deadline: June 30. 
Fest celebrates "the drive, spirit & diversity 
of women" Cats: Feature, Doc, Short, 
Animation. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 3/4", 
1/2". Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $25. 
Contact: Linda Broker; (719) 226-0450; 



fax: 579-5395; hnda@rmwfilmfest.org; 
www.rmwfilmfest.org. 

ROUTE 66 FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 17 18, IL 
Deadline: July 15. Fest seeks works that 
"involve some kind of journey" (physical, 
emotional, intellectual). Cats: feature, short, 
experimental. Awards: Awards for judges' 
choice, best of fest, audience favorite. 
Formats: 1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: $20 (features); $10 (shorts, under 20 
mm.). Contact: Linda McElroy at linmcel 
roy@aol.com; www.route66filmfestival.com. 

SAN DIEGO FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 21-25, CA. 
Deadline: June 1 ; July 1 (final). Cats: feature, 
doc, short, any style or genre. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, 1/2", DVD. Preview 
on VHS (NTSC), DVD. Entry Fee: $35 (fea- 
tures/docs); $25 (shorts); $45 (features final); 
$35 (shorts final). Contact: San Diego Film 
Foundation; (619) 582-2368; fax: 286-8324; 
mfo@sdff.org; www.sdff.org. 

SCREAMFEST HORROR FILM & SCREENPLAY 
COMPETITION, October 14-23, CA. Deadline: 
July 15; Aug. 15. Fest is a mix of films, 
sketch comedy, & contests for best costume 
& loudest shriek. Festivities take place at the 
Vogue Theatre in Hollywood. Cats: feature, 
short, animation, script. Entry Fee: features 
$40, shorts $30 & screenplays $35. Contact: 
Rachel Belofsky, festival producer; (310) 358- 
3273; fax: 358-3272; screamfestla@aol.com; 
www.screamfestla.com. 

SEATTLE LESBIAN & GAY FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 

14-23, WA. Deadline: June 1; July 1 (final). 
The Pacific Northwest's premier queer film 
fest, committed to screening the best in les- 
bian, gay, bisexual & transgender film/video. 
Produced by Three Dollar Bill Cinema, whose 
mission is to provide community access to 
queei_cinema & a venue for queer filmmak- 
ers to sho a- their work. Founded: 1 995. Cats: 
Feature, Short, Experimental, doc, anima- 
tion. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 1/2", Beta SP. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $1 0; $1 5 
(final). Contact: Jason Plourde; (206) 323- 
4274; fax: 323-4275; programming@seattle 
queerfilm.com; www.seattlequeerfilm.com. 

SHRIEKFEST-THE LOS ANGELES INT'L 
HORROR FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 11-12, CA 

Deadline: March 12; May 28; June 25 (final). 



Shriekfest, the annual Los Angeles Horror 
Film Festival is held at Raleigh Studios in 
Hollywood. The fest focuses on the horror 
film genre & the work of young filmmakers 
(18 & under). The fest "screens the best 
independent horror films of the year." Cats: 
feature, doc (about the horror genre), short, 
script, Young Filmmaker (under 18), youth 
media. Entry Fee: $20-$55. Contact: 
Shriekfest Film Festival; Shriekfest@aol.com; 
www.shriekfest.com. 

STARZ DENVER INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 10- 

20, CO. Deadline: July 15. Annual invitational 
expo of film presents approx. 200 films over 
1 1 days & plays host to more than 125 film 
artists. Founded: 1978. Cats: feature, doc, 
animation, experimental, children, short, 
family, student. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
video. Preview on VHS (NTSC/PAL) or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $20 (students); $35. Contact: 
Denver Film Society; (303) 595-3456; fax: 
595-0956; dfs@denverfilm.org; www.den 
verfilm.org. 

TAMPA INT'L LESBIAN & GAY FILM AND VIDEO 
FESTIVAL, October 6-16, FL. Deadline: July 2. 
The Fest considers all genres of any length by, 
about & of interest to lesbians & gay men. 
Fest is "committed to presenting culturally 
inclusive & diverse programs" of video & film. 
Founded: 1991. Cats: Gay/Lesbian, Any style 
or genre, feature, doc, short. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $10 shorts; $20 features. Contact: 
Manruth Kennedy; (813) 785-0292; fax: 875- 
7124; mxkennedy@aol.com; 

www.tiglff.com. 

TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 2 5, CO 
Deadline: May 1; July 15 (final). Annual fest, 
held in a Colorado mountain town, is a Labor 
Day weekend celebration commemorating 
the art of filmmaking: honoring the great 
masters of cinema, discovering the rare & 
unknown, bringing new works by the world's 
greatest directors. Cats: feature, short, stu- 
dent, any style or genre, doc, experimental. 
Awards: None. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, 
3/4", 1/2", S-VHS, Beta, Beta SP, DigiBeta, 
Hi8, DV, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: $35 (19 mm. or less); $55 (20-39 mm.); 
$75 (40-59 mm.); $95 (60 mm. & over); $25 
(student films). Contact: Bill Pence / Tom 
Luddy; (603) 433-9202; fax: 433-9206; 



June 2005 I The Independent 57 



mail@telluridefilmfestival.org; www.telluride 
filmfestival.org. 

TULSA OVERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 

19-21, OK. Deadline: July 18. Designed to 
challenge, inspire, & ultimately showcase 
Oklahoma filmmakers, the Tulsa Overground 
emphasizes the unique characters, experi- 
ences, & locations that Oklahoma has to 
offer. Works must not be longer than 20 
min. Cats: feature, doc, short, animation, 
experimental, any style or genre. Formats: 
1/2", Mini-DV, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $15. Contact: Festival; (918) 
585-1 223; tulsaoverground@hotmail.com; 
www.tulsaoverground.com. 

VERMONT INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 12-16, 
VT. Deadline: July 1. Fest devoted to pre- 
senting images & issues for social change. 
Categories: War & Peace, Justice/Human 
Rights & the Environment. Cats: feature, 
doc, short, any style or genre. Formats: 
35mm, Beta SP, 1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS 
or DVD. Entry Fee: $25 (shorts, under 30 
min.); $45 (feature). Contact: VIFF; (802) 660- 
2600; fax: 860-9555; info@vtiff.org; 
www.vtiff.org. 

WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL Oct 13 17, NY 

Deadline: May 15; June 28 (final). Annual 
nonprofit fest fosters an intimate, reciprocal 
relationship between indie filmmakers, 
industry reps & audience members held in 
"the most famous little town in the whole 
world". Celebrating new voices of indie film 
w/ seminars, workshops, concerts & parties. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, music video, ani- 
mation, student. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP, 
DigiBeta. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $25- 
$50. Contact: Meira Blaustein; (845) 679- 
4265; info@woodstockfilmfestival.com; 
www.woodstockfilmfestival.com. 

YOUNG PEOPLE'S FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL 

July, OR. Deadline: June 6. Young People's 
Film & Video Festival is an annual juried sur- 
vey of outstanding work by K-12 students 
from the Northwest (OR, WA, ID, MT, UT, 
AK). A jury reviews entries & assembles a 
program for public presentation. Judges' 
Certificates are awarded. About 20 films & 
videos are selected each year. Entries must 
have been made w/in previous 2 yrs. 
Founded: 1975. Cats: Student, any style or 



genre. Formats: 16mm, S-8, 3/4", 1/2", Hi8, 
CD-ROM, S-VHS, Super 8, DV, Mini-DV, 
DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Kristin Konsterlie, Festival 
Coordinator; (503) 221-1156; fax: 294-0874; 
kristin@nwfilm.org; www.nwfilm.org. 

INTERNATIONAL 

ATHENS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 16 25, 
Greece. Deadline: July 15. This fest's aim is 
to reinforce the fest's character, as a cine- 
matographic celebration, & to promote 
Athens, as a capital of young cinema lovers, 
where young & restless cinematography is 
adored. Cats: feature, doc, short, animation. 
Formats: 16mm, 35mm, Beta SP. Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Athens Int'l 
Film Festival- "Opening Nights"; (011) 30 
210 6061689; fax: 210 6014137; 
festival@pegasus.gr; www.aiff.gr. 

BAJA CALIFORNIA FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 26- 

30, Mexico. Deadline: June 30. Fest seeks 
works "which contribute to the progress of 
the motion picture, television & video arts & 
encourage the development of the industry 
throughout the world". Fest is organized by 
Lamia Foundation for Film Arts. Founded: 
2004. Cats: feature, short, TV, experimental, 
animation, music video, doc, any style or 
genre. Formats: DVD, 35mm. Preview on 
DVD. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Festival; 01 1 
664 630 09 40; direct@bajacaliforniafilm 
fest.org ; www.bajacaliforniafilmfest.org . 

BEIRUT CINEMA DAYS, Sept 15-25, 
Lebanon. Deadline: June 15. A non-competi- 
tive Arab film fest that shows films from or 
about the Arab world. Founded: 2001. Cats: 
feature, doc, short, animation, experimental, 
any style or genre. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP, 
DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Eliane Raheb, Hania Mroueh; 
011 961 1 293212; beirutdc@mco.com. lb. 

BORDEAUX INT'L FESTIVAL OF WOMEN IN 
CINEMA, Oct. 3-9, France. Deadline: June 15 
(shorts), July 31 (features). This Festival is 
designed & catered to the women filmmak- 
ers. The Festival aims to bring together inno- 
vative films from women & to recognize the 
achievements of female filmmakers. Cats: 
feature, short. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP Pal. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 



Festival Int'l du Cinema au Feminin; (01 1) 33 
1 56 36 15 01; s.wiemann@cinemafe 
minin.com; www.cinemafeminin.com. 

CINEKID, October 22-30, Netherlands. 
Deadline: July 1 . Visited by more than 37.000 
children & int'l professionals, this fest aims 
to kindle inspiration & love of film in children. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, animation. 
Formats: DVD, VHS, DigiBeta PAL, CD-ROM, 
35mm, 70mm, 16mm, Beta SP. Preview on 
VHS, CD-ROM or DVD. Entry Fee: None.. 
Contact: Festival; 011 +31(0)20 531 78 90; 
fax: 01 1 +31(0)20 531 78 99; info@cinekid.nl; 
www.cinekid.nl. 

FANTASTISK FILM FESTIVAL: LUND INT'L FILM 
FESTIVAL, Sept. 16-25, Sweden. Deadline: 
July 30. The only int'l film fest in Scandinavia 
totally devoted to the cinema of the fantas- 
tic: science-fiction, fantasy, horror, & thriller. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, animation. 
Formats: 16mm, 35mm, DV (PAL), Beta SP 
(PAL). Preview on VHS (PAL or NTSC) or 
DVD. Entry Fee: None (shorts have to pay 
their own freight). Contact: Mats-Ola 
Nilsson; 01 1 46 46 132 135; fax: 01 1 46 46 
132 139; info@fff.se; www.fff.se. 

FILM SOUTH ASIA, Sept 27 Oct 2, Nepal 
Deadline: June 30. Fest, located in 
Kathmandu, offers both competitive & non- 
competitive cats for docs on South Asian 
subjects made after Jan. 1 of pervious year. 
Full-length docs given preference. Selected 
films may tour South Asia & the world. 
Cats: doc. Formats: Beta SP, mini-DV, DV 
Cam. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: None. Contact: Film South Asia; 01 1 
977 1 542 544; fax: 977 1 541 196; 
fsa@himal association.org; www.himalassoc 
iation.org/fsa. 

INTERFILM BERLIN INT L SHORT FILM 
FESTIVAL BERLIN, Nov. 1-6, Germany. 
Deadline: July 16. Fest is the int'l short film 
event of Berlin. Films & videos no longer than 
20 mm. are eligible. No limit for yr. of produc- 
tion. Founded: 1982. Cats: doc, short, anima- 
tion, experimental, children. Awards: 15 prizes 
in various cats. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta 
SP. Preview on VHS (PAL/SECAM/NTSC) or 
DVD. No fee. Contact: Heinz Hermanns; 011 
49 30 693 29 59; fax: 49 30 693 29 59; festi 
val@interfilm.de; www.interfilm.de. 



58 The Independent I June 2005 



INVIDEO Nov. 9-13, Italy. Deadline: June 17. 
Formats: Beta SP, DVD. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: A. I. ACE./ 
INVIDEO; 01 1 39 2 761 1 53 94; fax: 752 801 
19; info@mostrainvideo.com; www.mosrain 
video.com. 

LES ECRANS DE LAVENTURE/INT'L FESTIVAL 
OF ADVENTURE FILM, Oct 14 16, France 
Deadline: July 15. Held in Dijon, fest is a 
showcase for recent adventure-themed 
docs. Cats: doc, children. Formats: Beta SP 
(PAL). Preview on VHS (PAL, Secam) or DVD. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: Geo Poussier; 
01 1 33 1 43 26 97 52; fax: 33 1 46 34 75 45; 
aventure@la-guilde.org. 

LOCARNO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, 

August 3-1 3, Switzerland. Deadline: June 15. 
This maior Swiss cultural/cinematic all-fea- 
ture event, is known for its innovative pro- 
gramming & support of alternative visions 
from independent directors. Competition is 
reserved for full-length features in general, 
from those directed by new directors to 
those realized by more experienced filmmak- 
ers from all over the world. Entries must 
have been completed w/in previous yr. 
Preferences for all sections given to world or 
European premieres. Two representatives of 
each competition film are brought in by the 
Festival for 5 days. Founded: 1948. Cats: fea- 
ture, doc, short, animation, experimental, 
student. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Irene Bignardi, Festival Director; 011 41 91 
756 2121; fax: 41 91 756 2149; 
info@pardo.ch; www.pardo.ch. 

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 19 Nov 3, 

UK. Deadline: July 15. Fest, run continuously 
since 1957, is Europe's largest non-competi- 
tive, invitational fest. 180 int'l features & 100 
short films showcased. Entries must be UK 
premieres, produced w/in preceding 18 
months. Fiction & doc works of all lengths & 
genres accepted. Founded: 1957. Cats: 
short, animation, feature, doc, any style or 
genre, children. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
8mm, 3/4", super 8, 70mm. Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Sarah 
Lutton; 011 44 20 7815 1322; fax: 44 20 
7633 0786; sarah. lutton ©bfi.org.uk; 
www.lff.org.uk. 



MONTREAL WORLD FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 25 

Sept. 5, Canada . Deadline: June 23 (shorts); 
July 30 (Features). Large & mt'ly known fest 
boasts audiences of over 700,000 & pro- 
grams hundreds of films. Features in compe- 
tition must be prod in 12 months preceding 
fest, not released commercially outside of 
country of origin & not entered in any com- 
petitive int'l film fest (unreleased films given 
priority). Shorts must be 70mm or 35mm & 
must not exceed 15 mm. Founded: 1977. 
Cats: feature, short, any style or genre. 
Formats: 35mm, 70mm, DVD, Video. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: none. Contact: 
Serge Losique, Fest Dir.; (514) 848-3883; 
848-9933; fax: 848-3886; info@ffm-montre 
al.org; www.ffm-montreal.org. 

NETHERLANDS FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 28-Oct. 
7, The Netherlands. Deadline: June 15. 
Annual fest is a nat'l film fest & ONLY Dutch 
films can be entered. Fest has a small 
Foreign Affairs section, for which foreign 
films w/a considerable Dutch aspect (actors, 
director, producers, subject, etc.) will be 
invited. Cats: feature, short, doc, TV. Preview 
on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Ellis 
Dnessem; 011 31 30 230 3800; fax: 31 30 
230 3801; hfm@filmfestival.nl; www.filmfes 
tival.nl. 

RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 28-Oct 9, 
UK. Deadline: June 1; July 1 (final). The fest 
aims to "reflect the cultural, visual & narra- 
tive diversity of the int'l independent film- 
making community" & specializes in films by 
first-time directors. Cats: short, animation, 
experimental, doc, music video, feature. 
Formats: 35mm, DigiBeta, Beta SP, DV 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: shorts: 15 
pounds, features: 50 pounds; shorts (final): 
$20 pounds, features (final): 75 pounds- all 
payments in Pounds Sterling. Contact: 
Festival; 011 44 171 287 3833; fax: 011 44 
171 439 2243; festival@raindance.co.uk; 
www.raindance.co.uk. 

SIENA INT'L SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 18 

26, Italy. Deadline: July 1. Fest, held in con- 
junction w/ Short Film Market, offering five 
competitions: fiction, experimental, doc, ani- 
mated films & Italian Panorama. All films 
must be 30 min. or less & have been pro- 
duced in the last 2 years. No advertising or 
industrial films accepted for competition. 



Cats: feature, animation, doc, short, experi- 
mental. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP. Preview 
on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Festival del Cortometraggio di Siena c/o 
Filmclub Associati; 01 1 39 06 474 5585; fax: 
39 06 478 85799; festival@cortoitaliacine 
ma.com; www.cortoitaliacinema.com. 

VANCOUVER INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 29 
Oct. 14, Canada. Deadline: June 15 
(Canadian); July 5 (Int'l). Fest presents 300 
films from 50 countries at 8 cinemas over 16 
days & has become one of N. America's larg- 
er int'l tests (after Montreal & Toronto). Cats: 
any style or genre, doc, feature, short. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 70mm, 3/4", 1/2", 
Beta, Beta SP, DigiBeta, DV, DVD. Preview 
on VHS. Entry Fee: $50 ($30 U.S., non- 
Canadian only). Contact: PoChu AuYeung, 
Program Manager; (604) 685-0260; fax: 688- 
8221; viff@viff.org; www.viff.org. 

VENICE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 31-Sept 
10, Italy. Deadline: June 30. Fest is one of 
the most prestigious in the world w/ several 
int'l sections. Competitive Venice59 & other 
sections to be confirmed. Founded: 1932. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, animation, retro. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, 
Experimental film sections also accepts BVU 
& Betacam video, Beta, DigiBeta. Preview 
on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: La 
Biennale di Venezia Dept. of Cinema; 01 1 
390 41 521 8711; fax: 390 41 522 7539; cm 
ema@labiennale.org; www.labiennale.org. 

ZIMBABWE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 26 

Sept. 4, Zimbabwe. Deadline: June 13. 
Festival is an annual project of the Zimbabwe 
Int'l Film Festival Trust (ZIFFT), a non-profit 
arts & cultural trust registered w/ the Nat'l 
Arts Council of Zimbabwe. Cats: feature, 
doc, short. Formats: 35mm, Beta, DVD. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Festival; 01 1 263 4 730 361 ; fax: 4 73 48 84; 
zimfilmfest@zol.co.zw; www.ziff.co.zw. 



More festival 

listings at 

www.aivf.org 



June 2005 I The Independent 59 



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BUY I RENT I SELL 

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE AT LOW PRICES. NO 
RESTRICTIONS Offering a High Quality, 
Extensive Library of Public Domain Footage 
spanning the 20th Century at prices inde- 
pendent producers can afford. Footage Farm 
(888) 270-1414; www.footagefarm.com. 

CAMERA RENTALS FOR LOW BUDGETS 

Production Junction is owned & operated by 
a fellow independent. Cameras, Lights, 
Mies, Decks, etc. Equipment & prices at 
www.ProductionJunction.com. 
Email:Chns@ProductionJunction.com or call 
(917) 288-9000. 

DIGIBETA/BETA-SP DECKS FOR RENT Best 
Prices in NYC! Transfer to DVD only $40. 
VHS dubs. DVCAM decks & camera pack- 
ages by day/week/month. 1:1 Meridian Avid 
suite & MC4000 suite. Production office 
space, too! Call Production Central (212) 
631-0435, www.prodcentral.com. 



UNION SQUARE AREA STAGE RENTALS, pro- 
duction space, Digibeta, Beta SP, DVCAM, 
mini-DV, hi-8, 24-P, projectors, grip, lights, 
dubs, deck and camera rentals. 
Uncompressed Avid and FCP suites, too. 
Production Central (212) 631-0435. 

DISTRIBUTION 

AQUARIUS HEALTH CARE VIDEOS is the lead 
ing Distributor/Producer of documentary 
films on health care issues. Our programs 
are educational and inspirational and focus 
on life challenging situations. We are cur- 
rently seeking additional films to add to our 
award winning collection. Our strong, target- 
ed marketing program will increase aware- 
ness and sales for you. Please send a pre- 
view vhs or DVD to Aquarius Health Care 
Videos, 18 North Main Street, Sherborn, MA 
01770 or call (888) 440-2963, lbk@aquarius 
productions.com. 

FANLIGHT PRODUCTIONS 20+ years as an 
industry leader! Join more than 100 award- 



winning film & video producers. Send us 
your new works on healthcare, mental 
health, aging, disabilities, and related issues. 
(800) 937-4113; www.fanlight.com. 

THE CINEMA GUILD, leading film/video/multi- 
media distributor, seeks new doc, fiction, 
educational & animation programs for distri- 
bution. Send videocassettes or discs for 
evaluation to: The Cinema Guild, 130 
Madison Ave., 2nd fl„ New York, NY 10016; 
(212) 685-6242; info@cinemaguild.com; Ask 
for our Distribution Services brochure. 

FREELANCE 

35MM & 16MM PROD. PKG. W/ DP Complete 
package w/ DP's own Am 35BL, 16SR, 
HMIs, lighting, dolly, Tulip crane, camjib, 
DAT, grip & 5-ton truck, more. Call for reel: 
Tom Agnello (201) 741-4367; roadtoindy 
I. com. 



ACCOUNTANT/BOOKKEEPER/CONTROLLER: 

Experience in both corporate & nonprofit 



60 The Independent I June 2005 






sectors. Hold MBA in Marketing & 
Accounting. Freelance work sought. Sam 
Sagenkahn (917) 374-2464. 

ARE YOU STUCK? FERNANDA ROSSI, script & 

documentary doctor, specializes in narrative 
structure in all stages of the filmmaking 
process, including story development, 
fundraising trailers and post-production. She 
has doctored over 30 films and is the author 
of Trailer Mechanics. For private consulta- 
tions and workshops visit www.documen 
tarydoctor.com or write to info@documen 
tarydoctor.com. 

CAMERAMAN/STEADICAM OPERATOR 

Owner Steadicam, Am 35 BL, Am 16 SR, 
Beta SP, Stereo TC Nagra 4, TC Fostex PD-4 
DAT, lighting packages to shoot features, 
music videos, commercials, etc. Call Mik 
Cribben for info & reel, (212) 929-7728 in NY 
or 800-235-2713 in Miami. 

COMPOSER MIRIAM CUTLEr loves to collabo 
rate - docs, features. Lost In La Mancha/IFC, 



Scout's Honor, Licensed To Kill, Pandemic: - 
Facing Aids/HBO, Indian Point/HBO, Positively 
Naked/HBO, Stolen Childhoodsa, Amy's O & 
more. (310) 398-5985; email mir.cut@ver : 
izon.net. www.miriamcutler.com. 

COMPOSER: Original music for your film or 
video project. Will workwith any budget. 
Complete digital studio. NYC area. Demo CD 
upon request. Call Ian O'Brien: (201) 222- 
2638; iobrien@bellatlantic.net. 

DP WITH ARRI SR SUPER 16/16MM AND 35BL 
2 CAMERA PACKAGES. Expertlighting and 
camerawork for independent films, music 
videos, etc. Superb results on a short sched- 
ule and low budget. Great prices. Willing to 
travel. Matthew 617-244-6730 

DIGITAL DP/CAMERA OPERATOR: with a Sony 
DSR-500WSL/1 camera package. Electronic 
Cinematography, documentary, independent 
friendly, reasonable rates. Full Screen/Wide 
Screen-(4:3/16:9). For reel, rate & info call: 
(516)783-5790. 



FREELANCE CAMERA GROUP IN NYC seeking 
professional cameramen and soundmen w/ 
solid Betacam experience to work w/ wide 
array of clients. If qualified, contact COA at 
(212) 505-1911. Must have documentary/ 
news samples or reel. 

FUNDRAISING/GRANTWRITING/PROJECT 
DEVELOPMENT Research, writing & strategy 
for production, distribution, exhibition & edu- 
cational media Successful proposals to 
NYSCA, NEA, Sundance, ITVS, Rockefeller 
Foundation, Robeson Foundation. Fast 
writers, reasonable rates. Wanda Bershen, 
(212) 598-0224; ww.reddiaper.com. 

NEW MUSIC PRODUCTION COMPANY with 
many years combined composing experience. 
Audioreel provides all the services that you 
may require for your production, from scoring 
to picture, too flash music for websites. 

SOUND RECORDIST / PLAYBACK OP available 
for Features, Music Videos, and Corporate. 
Equipment- Dat / Nagra (time code), 5 wire- 



June 2005 I The Independent 61 



Need an audience? 

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Order online at 
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less mics, mixers, playback speakers, smart 
slate, comteks, cart: Mike S. (212) 620-0084 

STEADICAM OPERATOR NY based, expen 
enced and professional. Top of the line equip- 
ment: TB-6 monitor,2xBFD Follow Focus/ 
Aperture, Modulus. 35mm, 16mm, HD, 
BetaSP. Call George @ 212-620-0084. 

OPPORTUNITIES I GIGS 

50 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR VIDEO BUSI- 
NESS. FREE REPORT Grow a successful 
video business in Legal, Wedding, 
Corporate, TV and more. http://videouni 
versity.com/50web.htm. 

DHTV, a progressive, nonprofit community 
media center and TV station in St. Louis, 
MO seeks works by indie producers. Half 
hour and 1 hour lengths. S-VHS accepted, 
DVD preferred. Nonexclusive rights 
release upon acceptance. No pay but 
exposure to 60,000 cable households. 
Contact Mariah Richardson, dhTV, 625 N. 
Euclid, St. Louis, MO 63108, (314) 361- 
8870 x230, manah@dhtv.org. 

LOOKING FOR A GREAT STORY SET IN THE 
HEARTLAND? See How High Is A Robin's 
Nest? At www.pftrights.com. 

THE QUITTAPAHILLA FILM FESTIVAL is looking 
for features, shorts and documentaries for 
its Sept. 30-Oct 2, 2005 juried festival. See 
full details for entry at our website: 
www.qfilms.org. Send submissions on VHS 
or DVD to: Attn. QFF, c/o The Allen Theatre, 
36 E. Main Street, Annville, PA 17003. 
Postmark entries by July 1, 2005. Entry fee 
is $25. 

POSTPRODUCTION 



AUDIO POST PRODUCTION: Full service audio 
post-production facility. Mix-to-picture, ADR, 
voice-over, sound design & editing. Features, 
shorts, docs, TV & Radio. Contact Andy, All 
Ears Inc: (718) 399-6668 (718) 496-9066 
andy@allearspost.com. 

BRODSKY & TREADWAY: film-to-tape trans- 
fers, wet-gate, scene-by-scene, reversal film 
only. Camera original Regular 8mm, Super 8, 



and 16mm. For appt. call (978) 948-7985. 

CERTIFIED FINAL CUT PRO INSTRUCTOR AND 
EDITOR: DV and Beta SP - Learn Final Cut Pro 
from professional editor and Apple Certified 
instructor. Log onto our website: 
www.HighNoonprod.com or call (917) 523- 
6260: e-mail lnfo@HighNoonProd.com. 

NEGATIVE CUTTING FOR FEATURES SHORT 
FILMS ETC. Expert conforming of 35mm, 
Super 16 or 16mm negative to work print or 
Avid cut list. Superb quality work and 
absolutely clean cuts. Great prices. Matthew 
617-244-6730; mwdp@att.net. 

PRODUCTION TRANSCRIPTS Verbatim tran- 
scription service for documentaries, 
journalists, film, and video. Low prices & flat 
rates based on tape length, www.produc 
tiontranscripts.com for details or call: (888) 
349-3022. 

PREPRODUCTION I 
DEVELOPMENT 

MAUREEN NOLAN: W7 8 years Miramax 
experience, script/story/creative consultant 
offers a full range of consulting services for 
writers and filmmakers. Script consults, 
coaching, story development, rewrites, etc. 
212-663-9389 or 917-620-6502. 




Free Project Evaluation 



244 Fifth Avenne Suite u 2518. NY. NY. 10001 



WEB 

WEB SITE DESIGNER: Create multimedia web 
sites, integrating video, sound, and special 
effects, that promote your films and/or your 
company, www.sabineprobstdesign.com. 
Info: Sabine Probst, phone: 646-226-7881, 
email: sabine@spromo.net 



62 The Independent I June 2005 



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COMPETITIONS 

2005 SANTA BARBARA SCRIPT COMPETITION 

seeks submissions. Entry fee $40. Grand 
Prize $2000 Option, First Prize $750. All 
winners will also receive screenwnting 
related books, materials and or software. 
Special Cash Award for Regional Writer to 
be awarded to a South Coast Resident. 
(Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo 
counties in California). Regular submission 
deadline is June 30th and late is July 31. 
Contact: Geoff@santabarbarascript.com 
or visit www.santabarbarascript.com. 

BUSINESS FILMS ELAN announces new 
screenplay contest: $1000 Feature-length 
Screenplay Contest — Deadline: June 15, 
2005 — Entry is free and winning films will 
be slotted for production. For more infor- 
mation and submission guidelines, please 
go to: www.businessfilm.com/business 
filmelan.html. 

CONFERENCES I WORKSHOPS 

INTERACTIVE PROJECT LAB BANFF NEW 
MEDIA INSTITUTE WORKSHOP The 

Interactive Project Lab (IPL) is a unique 



alliance of knowledge, resources and fund- 
ing that accelerates the creative, business 
and technology skills of Canadian interac- 
tive media talent, fostering the creation 
ofinnovative projects and viable start-up 
new media companies. Focused on the 
production of interactive cultural and 
entertainment works, the IPL offers a 
series of opportunities for interactive 
media producers and projects including: 
Prototype Acceleration Programs, 
Intensive Development Clinics, Funding 
Resources, Professional International 
Mentorship. For more information, please 
contact Caitlin O'Donovan, IPL Program 
Coordinator, at 416.445.1446 ext. 251 or 
info@iplab.ca. 

PUBLICATIONS 

DATABASE & DIRECTORY OF LATIN AMERI- 
CAN FILM & VIDEO, organized by Int'l Media 
Resources Exchange, seeks works by 
Latin American & US Latino ind. produc- 
ers. To send work or for info, contact 
Roselly Torres, LAVA, 124 Washington PL, 
NY, NY 10014; (212) 463-0108; 
imre@igc.org. 



RESOURCES FUNDS 

ARTHUR VINING DAVIS FOUNDATION pro- 
vides completion funding for educational 
series assured of airing nat'lly on PBS. 
Children's series are of particular interest. 
Consideration will also be given to innova- 
tive uses of public TV, including computer 
online efforts, to enhance educational out- 
reach in schools & communities. Funding 
for research and preproduction is rarely 
supported. Recent production grants have 
ranged from $100,000 to $400,000. 
Proposal guidelines available on website. 
Contact Dr. Jonathan T. Howe, Arthur 
Vining Davis Foundation, 225 Water 
Street, Suite 1510, Jacksonville, FL 
32202-51 85; arthurvinmg@bellsouth.net; 
www.jvm.com/davis. 

ARTISTS' FELLOWSHIPS are $7,000 cash 
awards made to individual originating 
artists living and working in the state of 
New York for use in career development. 
Grants are awarded in 16 artistic disci- 
plines, with applications accepted in eight 
categories each year. The next deadline 
for Artists' Fellowships is Monday, 
October 3, 2005. At that time we will be 



June 2005 I The Independent 63 



accepting applications in the following cat- 
egories: Architecture /Environmental 
Structures, Choreography, Fiction, Music 
Composition, Painting, Photography, 
Playwriting /Screenwriting, and Video. To 
learn more about Artists' Fellowships visit 
our website at: www.nyfa.org/afp. 
Applications for the remaining categories: 
Computer Arts, Crafts, Film, Non- 
fiction Literature, Performance, Art/ 
Multidisciplinary Work, Poetry, Printmaking 
Drawing/Artists' Books, and Sculpture-will 
be accepted in early October 2006. 

EXPERIMENTAL TELEVISION CENTER PRESEN- 
TATION FUNDS award up to $1,000 each 
year to nonprofit media arts organizations 
in New York State. Funds must go to fees 
to artists for in-person presentations of 
film, electronic media, sonic art, and art 
using new technologies and the internet. 
Electronic music & work that's primarily 
commercial, instructional, educational, or 
promotional not considered. For more info, 
call program director Sherry Miller Hocking, 
(607) 687-4341; etc@expenmentaltvcen 
ter.org; www.experimentaltvcenter.org. 

MEDIA ARTS TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FUND 

is designed to help non-profit media arts 
programs in New York State stabilize, 
strengthen or restructure their media arts 
organizational capacity, services and activ- 
ities. The fund will provide up to $2,000 
per project to organizations which receive 
support from NYSCA's Electronic Media 
and Film program. The Media Arts 
Technical Assistance fund can assist with 
the hiring of consultants or other activities 
which contribute to organizational, man- 
agement and programming issues which 
influence the media arts activities. Contact 
Sherry Miller Hocking, Program Director at 
Experimental Television Center deadlines 
for application are January 1 , 2005; April 1 , 
July 1, and October 1. 

NEA INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL FILM-MAKER 
RESIDENCY 2005 Application Deadline: in- 
hand June 16, 2005 This four week 
National Endowment for the Arts funded 
residency offers one month unlimited 
access to 16mm production and post-pro- 
duction systems, the G4 Final Cut Pro dig- 
ital editing system and digital video cam- 



eras. The month-long residency includes 
lodging in a funky, nearby hotel, travel, and 
a $1000 artist's stipend paid in two install- 
ments. This Artist's Residency is directed 
toward experimental filmmakers who are 
interested in using new technologies but 
lack the resources for access and training. 
In addition to the artist completing and 
exhibiting at least one new work, the 
terms of the residency include teaching 
one local workshop (4 - 8 hours) on any 
topic related to media art and curating one 
evening screening of films / videos which 
relate to the resident's own creative 
investigations. The selected artist will 
be notified by June 30, 2005 and may 
fulfill the terms of the residency between 
August and November 2005. Unfortun- 
ately, full-time students are ineligible to 
apply for the residencies. Call, email, or 
drop in for an application form and guide- 
lines. Go to www.squeaky.org/ opportuni- 
ties. html to download the application 
form, or contact us to send you one. Send 
Application to Attn: NEA Digital Filmmaker 
Residency, Squeaky Wheel, 175 
Elmwood, Buffalo, NY 14201. 

MICROCINEMA SCREENINGS 

DAHLIAS FLIX & MIX, a weekly showcase 
of new film & music held on Tuesdays at 
NY's Sugar, is seeking submissions. 
Showcases fresh and previously undistrib- 
uted film & video work, as well as DJs 
spinning great music. No guest list, cover 
charge, or submission fee. Contact 
dsmith@independentfilm.com or stop by 
Sugar any Tuesday evening (doors open 
7pm, screenings begin 8pm). Send sub- 
missions: a VHS or DVD copy and a brief 
synopsis to: Dahlia Smith, c/o SUGAR, 
31 1 Church St., New York, NY 1 001 3. 

TOURING PROGRAMS 

THE HIP HOP FILM FEST TOUR is an ongoing 
event hitting major cities & cultural 
centers on a global level. Organizers are 
indie filmmakers looking to share their 
visual documents of the vibrant Hip Hop 
culture and connect with other mediamak- 
ers. Deadline: Ongoing. Visit www.hiphop 
filmfest.com or email lnfo@HipHop 
FilmFest.com, or call (415) 424-0987. 



BROADCAST CABLECAST 

AXELGREASE, Buffalo cable access pro- 
gram of experimental film & video under 
28 min. Send vhs, svhs, [mini] dv, labeled 
w/ name, address, title, length, additional 
info & SASE for tape return to: Squeaky 
Wheel, 175 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, 
NY 14201; (718) 884-7172; office® 
squeaky.org; www.squeaky.org. 

INDUSTRIAL TELEVISION Cutting-edge 
cable access show now in its 9th year, is 
looking for experimental, humorous, 
quirky dramatic, erotic, horror/sci-fi, ani- 
mated and underground works for inclu- 
sion in the new season. Our program goes 
out to over 140,000 Time Warner cable 
households every Sat. night at midnight. 
Because we specifically request late-night 
time slots, we are allowed to air "R-rated" 
content. Controversial, uncensored and 
subversive material is encouraged & given 
priority. We guarantee exposure in the 
NYC area. We accept: DVC Pro, mmi-DV, 
SVHS, VHS, 3/4" SR 3/4", Hi-8. Contact: 
Edmund Varuolo, c/o 2droogies produc- 
tions, Box 020206, Staten Island, NY 
10302; ed@2droogies.com; www.industri 
altelevision.com. 

PUBLIC BROADCASTING SERVICE accepts 
proposals for programs & completed pro- 
grams by independent producers aimed at 
public television audiences. Consult PBS 
web page for content priorities & submis- 
sion guidelines before submitting. Contact 
Cheryl Jones, Program Development & 
Independent Film, PBS Headquarters, 
1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria, VA 
22314; (703) 739-5150; fax 739-5295; 
cjones@pbs.org; www.pbs.org/producers. 

SRS CINEMA, LLC seeks a variety of differ- 
ent video & film productions for 
VHS/DVD/TV worldwide release. Seeking 
feature-length nonfiction productions in all 
areas of the special-interest or instruction- 
al fields, cutting-edge documentaries & 
children & family programming. Also seek- 
ing feature-length fiction. Supematural- 
themed products wanted, especially 
supernatural/horror fiction shot documen- 
tary style. Contact: Ron Bonk, Sub Rosa 
Studios, (315) 652-3868; Email webmas 
ter@b-movie.com; www.b-movie.com. 



64 The Independent I June 2005 



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4TH ANNUAL BARE BONES SCRIPT-2-SCREEN 
FEST & SCREENWRITERS CONFERENCE in 

Tulsa, OK is looking for independent 
screenwriters & filmmakers to enter com- 
petition in variety of categories: feature 
screenplays & movies, short movies & 
screenplays, teleplays, trailers, doc, ani- 
mation, actor monologues, Shoot 'N OK 
location micro-screenplay will get pro- 
duced. Submission Deadline for the 
Festival, which will take place between 
October 13-16 is July 31, 2005. For more 
details script2screenfest@yahoo.com or 
visit www.script2screenfilmfestival.com. 

BOXCAR, a screening series held every 
two months at the Detroit Film Center, is 
currently seeking submissions of short 
experimental and documentary work. 
Send submissions on mini DV along with 
a 2-3 sentence synopsis. There is no form 



or entry fee. Send work to: Detroit Film 
Center, c/o Boxcar, 1227 Washington 
Blvd. Detroit, Ml 48226. Please include 
SASE for return of tape. Email boxcarcine 
ma@hotmail.com. 

CELLULOID SOCIAL CLUB is a monthly 
screening series in Vancouver featuring 
the best in independent provocative short 
& feature films & videos followed by fun & 
frolic. Hosted by Ken Hegan at the ANZA 
Club, #3 West 8th Ave., Vancouver, BC. 
No minors. Prizes galore. For more info 
call (604) 730-8090 or email celluloid 
@shaw.ca; www.CelluloidSocialClub.com. 

DREAM SERIES: Seeks challenging social- 
issue documentaries that promote frank 
community discussions about issues of 
racial prejudice and social injustice that fall 
under the Martin Luther King, Jr., legacy. 



Selected works are screened for this 
ongoing monthly series at the MLK 
National Historic Site in Atlanta, GA, and 
promoted, listed, and reviewed in local 
print. Formats: VHS, Beta. Send non 
returnable VHS screeners to Exhibitions 
Curator IMAGE Film & Video Center 535 
Means Street, NW, Suite C Atlanta, 
Georgia 30318 or visit www.imagefv.org. 

FIRST SUNDAYS COMEDY FILM FESTIVAL 

Deadline: ongoing. A monthly festival fea- 
turing the best in comedy and short 
film/digi/animation followed by an after- 
screening networking event. An ongoing 
festival held the first Sunday of each 
month at the Pioneer Theater in New York, 
First Sundays is the premiere opportunity 
to showcase work and meet talented 
directors and other indie dv/film folk. Cats: 
short (under 20 mm.), comedy, anima- 



June 2005 I The Independent 65 



Don't let your script end here. 



Get independent and become a 

member of AIVF, the Association of 

Independent Video and Filmmakers. 

By joining AIVF you can enjoy benefits 

like trade discounts on supplies and 

services; discounts on workshops and 

resource guides; access to affordable 

health coverage. AIVF offers a 

searchable directory of domestic 

and international film festivals, 

plus a whole lot more 



visit us at www.aivf.org 



tion/dv/film. Formats: Mini-DV, DVD, 
VHS. Entry Fee: $20. Contact: (email) 
film@chicagocitylimits.com or see site: 
www.firstsundays.com. 

INDIEEXPOSURE is a new festival that is 
designed to build an ongoing and more 
open network for independent film 
professionals and "enthusiasts." The goal 
is to provide continued opportunities for 
great filmmakers to showcase their work, 
while offering film buffs more variety and 
easier access to a broader independent 
film community. I.E. will sponsor screen- 
ings of select films on a monthly basis at 
a local Los Angeles theatre. For submis- 
sion procedure, email lndieExposure@ver 
izon.net and type "SUBMISSION" in the 
subject line. 

MINDJAKK DIGITAL STUDIOS is seeking 
submissions for their new show called 
Independent Axis, which showscases 
independent art: shorts primarily and 
videos, trailers, web short, flash animation 
and artists showcase. Submissions are 
free of charge and will be broadcast to a 



possible 80,000 households on a NBC affil- 
iate. You can find out more information at 
www.mindjakk.com. 

OCULARIS provides a forum for film & 
video makers to exhibit their work at 
Brooklyn's Galapagos Art & Performance 
Space. All works are considered for pro- 
gramming in the weekly series, travelling 
programs & other special projects. Local 
film/video makers can submit works under 
15 mm. to Open Zone, a quarterly open 
screening. Nat'l/int'l works & medium 
length works (15-45 min.) will be consid- 
ered for curated group shows. For sub- 
mission guidelines & other info, visit the 
website www.ocularis.net; or email: 
shortfilms@ocularis.net. 

STREET MOVIES is a year-round screening 
series presented by Philadelphia's Scribe 
Video Center. Free series tours Philly 
neighborhoods throughout the year & 
offers a program of indy cinema to the 
general public w/ a forum for dialogue. 
Prefer social issue, thought-provoking 
work of any genre or style as well as kid- 



66 The Independent I June 2005 






friendly pieces. Must be under 60 mins & 
will receive an honorarium if selected. 
Founded: 1997. Send 1/2" VHS or DVD 
w/ synopsis and contact info. Contact: 
Phil Rothberg, Program Coordinator; 215- 
222-4201; email stmovies@scribe.org; 
www.scribe.org. 

URBAN MEDIAMAKERS FILM FESTIVAL 2005 

is accepting submissions for the 4th 
Annual Urban Mediamakers Film Festival 
to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, October 14- 
16, 2005. All genres accepted including 
short, feature, and documentaries on VHS 
and DVD (DVD copies must include a VHS 
as well). Deadline for submissions is 
August 1, 2005 with a entry fee of $10. 
Please mail a VHS/DVD copy of your film 
and include a synopsis of the film, length 
of film, a short bio and resume of the 
director/producer/writer. Also include 
press materials if they are available. Mail 
all entries to: Urban Mediamakers Film 
Festival 2005, PMB 315, 1353 Riverstone 
Parkway, Suite 120, Canton, Georgia 
30114, Attention: Festival Coordinator. For 
more information visit www.urbanmedia 
makers.com or call 770.345.8048. 

WILD BLUE YONDER NETWORK 

(www.gowildblueyonder.com) presents 
the Cloud 9 Short Film Festival. This ongo- 
ing film festival selects 5 films each 
month to run the length of the month on 
the Wild Blue Yonder Network, the in- 
flight entertainment network of Frontier 
Airlines. Each monthly film will be voted 
on online; at the end of the year, one film 
will be declared the year's winner, receiv- 
ing a $5,000 grad prize. To submit: go to 
www.gowildblueyonder.com and choose 
the link for how to submit or go to 
www.bigfilmshorts.com and click on the 
link for Wild Blue Yonder and follow the 
submission instructions. Contact Brant 
Kriscewicz of Wild Blue Yonder at 303- 
382-4382 or bkrisewicz@henrygill.com. 
Or mail your film, along with a completed 
submission form to David Russell of 
NANOTV at 100 S. Sunrise Way #289, 
Palm Springs, CA 92262. 



GWW 



Gotham Writers' Workshop 8 

Online Workshops in 
Screenwriting and TV Writing 

"Best of the Web" - Forbes 

"Gotham Writers' Workshop has proved a priceless resource for our members and 
writers around the world. Their skilled instruction, convenient class schedules 
and student-faculty exchange are without equal. " 

— John Johnson, Executive Director, American Screenwriters Association 

Writers at every level can benefit from a professional writing workshop. A class 
of committed writers working together under the direction of a professional 
writer can provide the inspiration, insight and direction you need to develop 
your work. 

GOTHAM WRITERS' WORKSHOP 

The leading creative writing school online and in NYC, Gotham Writers' 
Workshop has provided comprehensive 10-week online workshops to more 
than 10,000 students worldwide. In the process the school has received 
accolades from its students and a "Best of the Web" rating from Forbes. 

LIVE WORKSHOP BENEFITS & ONLINE CONVENIENCE 

Gotham online workshops provide all the features you would find in a 'live' 
workshop including: 

• Lectures on craft 

• Writing exercises with instructor feedback 

• Extensive student/teacher interaction 

• In-depth critique of student work 

You can log onto your online workshop whenever you want — our classes 
are available 24/7. What could be more convenient? 

TAKE YOUR WRITING TO THE NEXT LEVEL 

To learn how the professional writers at Gotham can help you take your 
writing to the next level, visit WritingClasses.com or call us toll-free at 

1-877-974-8377. 

"Gotham gave me my first glimpse into the world of screenwriting. Armed with 
that knowledge, I packed up and headed for Hollywood. In less than two years, 
I went from a student in the Screenwriting I class to staff writer on the highest- 
rated syndicated action hour of the season. " 

— George Strayton, StaffWriter, Xena 



WritingClasses.com 




June 2005 I The Independent 67 



New Books from British Film Institute 






\ WIIM R 




BFI MODERN CLASSICS 



10 

Geoff Andrew 

S13.95 paperback 



Bombay 

Lalitha Gopalan 

$13.95 paperback 



BFI FILM CLASSICS 



Bringing Up Baby 

Peter Swaab 

S13.95 paperback 

On the Waterfront 

Leo Braudy 

S13.95 paperback 

Fear Eats the Soul 

Laura Cottingham 

S13.95 paperback 

Vampyr 

David Rudkin 

S13.95 paperback 



TEACHING FILM & 
MEDIA STUDIES 



Teaching Music Video 

Peter Fraser 

S24.95 paperback 

Teaching Contemporary 
British Cinema 

Sarah Casey Benyahia 

S24.95 paperback 



David Lynch 

Michel Chion 

2nd Edition 

"Everything you ever wanted 
to know and more.. .about 
the American film director 
David Lynch." 

— The Observer 
S21.95 paperback $7000 hardcover 

Mizoguchi 
and Japan 

Mark Le Fanu 

Despite Mizoguchi's extraor- 
dinary qualities as a film- 
maker, this is the first full- 
length study in English 
devoted to his work in over 
twenty years. 
S24.95 paperback S70.00 hardcover 

The Hollywood 
Studio System 

A History 
Douglas Gomery 
This is the first book to 
describe and analyze the 
development, operation, and 
reinvention of the corporate 
entities that produce and 
distribute most of the films 
we watch. 
S22.50 paperback S70.OO hardcover 




Understanding 
Realism 

Richard Armstrong 
Armstrong examines the 
complex relationship 
between the moving image, 
appearance, and reality. 
$16.95 paperback 

Film and 
Television Music 

The Spectre of Sound 
Kevin Donnelly 
Donnelly focuses on film 
music as a device that con- 
trols its audience by using 
emotion as a powerful tool. 
He discusses not only tradi- 
tional orchestral film music 
but also film music's colo- 
nization of television and 
the relation of pop music 
and film. 
S22.50 paperback $70.00 hardcover 







At bookstores or order (800) 822-6657 • bfi.ucpress.edu 

BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE 

Distributed by University of California Press 



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ALBANY/TROY, NY: 

UPSTATE INDEPENDENTS 

When: First Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. 

Where: Bulmer Telecommunications Center, 

Hudson Valley Community College, 80 

Vandenburg Ave., Troy, NY 

Contact: Jeff Burns, (518) 366-1538 

albany@aivf.org 

ATLANTA, GA: 

IMAGE 

When: Second Tuesdays, 7 p.m. 

Where: Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, 

353 Means Street 

Contact: Sonia Vassell, (404) 352-4225 x20 

atlanta@aivf.org; wvvrw.imagefv.org 

CHARLESTON, SC: 

When: Last Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. 

Where: Charleston County Library 

68 Calhoun Street 

Contact: Peter Paolini, (843) 805-6841; or 

Peter Wentworth, charleston@aivf.org 

CLEVELAND, OH: 

OHIO INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL 
Contact: Annetta Marion or Bernadette 
Gillota, (216)651-7315 
cleveland@aivf.org; www.ohiofilms.com 

COLUMBIA, SC: 

When: Second Sundays 
Where: Art Bar, 1211 Park St. 
Contact: Wade Sellers, (803) 929-0066 
columbia@aivf.org 

DALLAS, TX: 

VIDEO ASSOCIATION OF DALLAS 

When: Bi-monthly 

Contact: Bart Weiss, (214) 428-8700 

daJlas@aivf.org 



EDISON, NJ: 

Where: Passion River Productions, 
190 Lincoln Hwy. 

Contact: Allen Chou, (732) 321-071 1 
edison@aivf.org; www.passionriver.com 

FORT WAYNE, IN: 

Contact: Erik Mollberg 

(260) 691-3258; fortwayne@aivf.org 

HOUSTON, TX: 

SWAMP 

When: Last Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. 

Where: 1519 West Main 

Contact: Mary Lampe, (713) 522-8592 

houston@aivf.org 

HUNTSVILLE, AL: 

Contact: Charles White, (256) 895-0423 
huntsville@aivf.org 

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL: 

Contact: Paul Godby, (205) 956-3522 
jeffersoncounty@aivf.org 

LINCOLN, NE: 

NEBRASKA INDEPENDENT FILM PROJECT 
When: Second Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. 
Where: Telepro, 1844 N Street 
Contact: Jared Minary, lincoln@aivf.org, 
(402) 467-1077, www.nifp.org 

LOS ANGELES, CA: 

When: Third Mondays, 7:30 p.m. 

Where: EZTV, 18th Street arts Center, 629 

18th St., #6, Santa Monica 

Contact: Michael Masucci 

(310) 829-3389; losangeles@aivf.org 

MILWAUKEE, Wl: 

MILWAUKEE INDEPENDENT FILM SOCIETY 

When: First Wednesdays, 7 p.m. 



Where: Milwaukee Enterprise Center, 
2821 North 4th, Room 140 
Contact: Laura Gembolis, (414) 688-2375 
milwaukee@aivf.org; www.mifs.org/salo 

NASHVILLE, TN 

Where: See www.naivf.com for events 
Contact: Stephen Lackey, nashville@aivf.org 

PORTLAND, OR: 

Where: Hollywood Theatre 

Contact: David Bryant, (503) 244-4225 

portland@aivf.org 

ROCHESTER, NY: 

Where: Visual Studies Workshop 

Contact: Liz Lehmann 

(585) 377-1109; rochester@aivf.org 

SAN DIEGO, CA: 

When: Monthly 

Where: Media Arts Center, 921 25th Street 

Contact: Ethan van Thillo (619) 230-1938 

sandiego@aivf.org 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: 

Contact: Kathy Vaguilar 

(510) 482-3484; sanfrancisco@aivf.org 

SEATTLE, WA: 

SEATTLE INDIE NETWORK 

When: Bi-monthly 

Where: Wiggly World and 91 1 Media Arts 

Center 

Contact: Andrea Mydlarz, Fiona Orway; 

seattle@aivf.org 

TUCSON, AZ: 

Contact: Jana Segal, (520) 906-7295 
tucson@aivf.org 

WASHINGTON, DC: 

Contact: DC Salon hotline, 

(202) 661-7145, washingtondc@aivf.org 



70 The Independent I June 2005 



THANK YOU 



The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 
(AIVF) provides a wide range of programs and services 
for independent moving image makers and the media 
community, including The Independent and a series of 
resource publications, seminars and workshops, infor- 
mation services, and arts and media policy advocacy. 

None of this work would be possible without the 
generous support of the AIVF membership and the 
following organizations: 

We also wish to thank the following individuals and 
organizational members: 



*» 



NYSCA 



G 

PBS 



Adobe Systems, Inc. 

City of New York Dept. of Cultural Affairs 

Discovery Wines 

Experimental Television Center Ltd. 

Forest Creatures Entertainment, Inc. 

Home Box Office 

The Jewish Communal Fund 

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 

NAMAC 

The Nathan Cummings Foundation 

The National Endowment for the Arts 

New York State Council on the Arts 

The Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation 

Panasonic USA 

PBS 

Public Media, Inc. 

Yuengling Beer 



BUSINESS/INDUSTRY MEMBERS: AL: Cypress Moon Productions; 
AZ: Ascension Pictures; CA: Groovy Like a Movie; llluminaire 
Entertainment, Media Del'Arte; SJPL Films, Ltd.; CO: Pay Reel; 
CT: Anvil Production; DC: Corporation for Public Broadcasting; FL: 
Key West Films Society; New Screen Broacasting; GA: Lab 601 
Digital Post; IL: Shattering Paradigms Entertainment, LLC; MA: 
Exit One Productions; MD: NewsGroup, Inc.; TLF Limited 
Management; Ml: Logic Media LLC; NH: Kinetic Films; NY: 
American Montage; Baraka Productions; Cypress Films; DeKart 
Video; Deutsch/Open City Films; Docurama; Forest Creatures 
Entertainment; getcast.com; Gigantic Brand; Harmonic Ranch; 
Lantern Productions; Larry Engel Productions Inc.; Lightworks 
Producing Group; Mad Mad Judy; Mercer Media; Missing Pixel; 
Off Ramp Films, Inc.; On the Prowl Productions; OVO; Possibilites 
Unlimited; Production Central; Range Post; Robin Frank 
Management; Rockbottom Entertainment, LLC; Triune Pictures; 
United Spheres Production; OR: Art Institute of Portland; Rl: The 
Revival House; WA: Sound Wise; Two Dogs Barking; Singapore: 
Crimson Forest Films 

NONPROFIT MEMBERS: AR: Henderson State University; 
AZ: Pan Left Productions; CA: Bay Area Video Coalition; California 
Newsreel; Everyday Gandhis Project; Film Arts Foundation; 
International Buddhist Film Festival; NALIP; New Images 
Productions; Sundance Institute; USC School of Cinema and TV; 
CO: Denver Center Media; Free Speech TV: CT: Hartley Film 
Foundation; DC: American University School of Communication; 
CINE; FL: Miami International Film Festival; University of Tampa; 
GA: Image Film and Video Center; HI: Pacific Islanders in 
Communications; IL: Art Institute of Chicago (Video Data Bank); 
Community Television Network; Department of 
Communication/NLU; Kartemquin Films; IN: Fort Wayne Cinema 
Center; KY: Appalshop; MA: CCTV; Documentary Educational 
Resources; Harvard University, OsCLibrary; LTC; MD: Laurel Cable 
Network; Silverdocs: AFI Discovery Channel Doc Festival; ME 
Maine Photographic Workshop; Ml: Ann Arbor Film Festival; MN 
IFP/MSP; Walker Art Center; MO: Webster University Film Series 
NC: Broadcasting/Cinema; Calcalorus Film Foundation; Duke 
University, Film & Video Dept.; NE: Nebraska Independent Film 
Project/AIVF Salon Lincoln; NJ: Black Maria Film Festival; Capriole 
Productions; Freedom Film Society, Inc.; Princeton University, 
Program in Visual Arts; NM: Girls Film School; University of New 



Mexico; NY: ActNow Productions; Arts Engine; Cornell Cinema; 
Council for Positive Images, Inc.; Creative Capital Foundation; 
Crowing Rooster Arts; Educational Video Center; Experimental TV 
Center; Film Forum; Film Society of Lincoln Center; Firelight 
Media; International Film Seminars; LMC-TV; Manhattan 
Neighborhood Network; National Black Touring Circuit; National 
Black Programming Consortium; National Musuem of the 
American Indian; National Video Resources; New York University, 
Cinema Studies; New York Women in Film and Television; 
Parnassus Works; POV/The American Documentary; RIT School 
of Film and Animation; Squeaky Wheel; Standby Program; 
Stonestreet Studios Film and TV Acting Workshop; Stony Brook 
Film Festival; Syracuse University; Upstate Films, Ltd.; Witness; 
Women Make Movies; OH: Athens Center for Film And Video; 
Independent Pictures/AIVF Ohio Salon; Media Bridges Cincinatti; 
School of Film, Ohio University; Wexner Center; OR: Northest 
Film Center; The Oregon Film & Video Foundation; PA: American 
Poetry Center; Philadelphia Independent Film & Video Assoc. 
(PIFVA); Scribe Video Center; TeamChildren.com; Rl: Flickers Arts 
Collaborative; SC: Department of Art, University of South Carolina; 
South Carolina Arts Commission; TX: Austin Film Society; 
Southwest Alternate Media Project; UT Sundance Institute; WA: 
Seattle Central Community College; Thurston Community 
Television; Canada: Banff Centre Library; France: The Carmago 
Foundation 

FRIENDS OF AIVF: Angela Alston, Sabina Maja Angel, Tom 
Basham, Aldo Bello, David Bemis, Doug Block, Liz Canner, Hugo 
Cassirer, Williams Cole, Anne del Castillo, Arthur Dong, Martin 
Edelstein, Esq., Aaron Edison, Paul Espinosa, Karen Freedman, 
Lucy Garrity, Norman Gendelman, Debra Granik, Catherine Gund, 
Peter Gunthel, David Haas, Kyle Henry, Lou Hernandez, Lisa 
Jackson, John Kavanaugh, Stan Konowitz, Leonard Kurz, Lyda 
Kuth, Steven Lawrence, Bart Lawson, Regge Life, Juan 
Mandelbaum, Diane Markrow, Tracy Mazza, Leonard McClure, 
Daphne McDuffie-Tucker, Jim McKay, Michele Meek, Robert 
Millis, Robert Millis, Richard Numeroff, Elizabeth Peters, Laura 
Poitras, Robert Richter, Hiroto Saito, Larry Sapadin, James 
Schamus, John Schmidt, Nat Segaloff, Robert Seigel, Gail Silva, 
Innes Smolansky, Barbara Sostaric, Alexander Spencer, Miriam 
Stern, George Stoney, Rhonda Leigh Tanzman, Rahdi Taylor, Karl 
Trappe, Jane Wagner, Bart Weiss 



June 2005 I The Independent 71 



THE LIST 



YOU CALL THIS WEIRD? 

By Lindsay Gelfand 

How experimental can an independent film be before it gets just straight-up weird? 
And what, in your opinion, does the art of experimental filmmaking really entail? 



"I rhink you can be as 'experimental' as you want as long as 
you are trying to communicate something. It's a category that 
usually means you're not telling a story the same way everyone 
else does. The most important thing is to have something clear 
you're trying to communicate, then decide on the method." 

— Nicholas McCarthy, director, Cry For Help 

"At its core, experimental filmmaking is an exploration and a 
challenge of the plastic elements of film as a presentation for- 
mat. So, who is to say what is too weird? Certainly not me. 
Though one can critique and judge the film's craft, relevance, 
and impact; its insight, thoughtlulness, and thoroughness: and 
its coarse or fragile aesthetics, as well as its contents and goals." 
— Alvaro Donado, producer, Messengers and Family Portrait 

"I guess the point at which it would get weird is the point 
that it crosses from objective to subjective, where it begins to 
not make as much sense to the majority and forces the individ- 
ual to struggle with finding meaning in it. The threshold will be 
different for everyone — each finds purpose beyond what the 
next does. It doesn't have to mean something abstract with elec- 
tronic noises, just pushing the envelope. I think elements of that 
can be found in a lot of work." 

— Chad Burris, producer, Goodnight Irene 

"If we look back, some of Luis Bund's collaboration with 
Salvador Dali, I'm sure, was interpreted as 'weird.' But as long 
as there is a strong subconscious or conscious message to the 
masses... why not?" 

— Maritza Alvarez, writer/cinematographer, Pura Lengua 

"I saw a lot of great experimental films this year at Clermont- 
Ferrand: Phantom Limb, The Raftsman's Razor, The Final 
Solution. Some were tedious ... others were absolutely amazing 



and were truly groundbreaking. I guess that's what experimen- 
tal filmmaking is really about: give audiences something they've 
never seen and/or weren't expecting. When it works, it's incred- 
ible. And it's painful to watch if it isn't pulled off." 

— John Bryant, director, Oh My God 

"Generally an independent film can rate up to like an EXP 
7.1 before it will be deemed Too Weird For Audiences. The 
scale will differ slightly in Europe, but it's safe to say that a 7.3 
or higher will land you in Anthology Film Archives (or even fur- 
ther downtown, where things can get Downright Weird...) If I 
were advising an aspiring independent filmmaker today, I 
would say shoot for the 6.8-7.0 — you can always make it more 
experimental if you don't get distribution. The art is in setting 
the Weird mark that is right for your audience, and then nail- 
ing it." 

— Bill Morrison, director/producer, Outerborough 

"Experimental filmmaking should always keep in mind that 
an audience comes to a film expecting to be told a story or to 
find a piece of themselves within the story. So even in its 
strangest and weirdest realms, experimental films must keep a 
human and emotional connection with its audience." 

— Tonia Barber, director, Raw 

"All films are experiments if you accept the definition of 
experiment as investigation. Every film I've ever made has been 
an experiment on multiple levels, from story and character to 
production and process. I always discover something new and 
never know where I'll end up before I get started. If I always 
knew exactly where I was going, I think filmmaking would be 
kind of boring." 

— Eric Escobar, director, One Weekend a Month 



72 The Independent I June 2005 







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Volume 28 Number 6 

Cover: "Storyville" editor Nick Fraser (courtesy BBC) 



Contents 



Upfront 



5 EDITOR'S LETTER 

6 CONTRIBUTORS 

8 NEWS 

Steven Soderbergh's new experiment; WGA's low 
budget agreement; screenwriter claims The 
Matrix; National Conference for Media Reform 
By Leah Hochbaum 

14 UTILIZE IT 

Tools and news you can use 
By David Aim 

15 PRODUCTION JOURNAL 

Human rights activists gather for an intense and 
intensive workshop 

By Michele Stephenson 

19 PROFILE 

Margarethe von Trotta is not a feminist 
By Sarah Coleman 

22 DOC DOCTOR 

Making a doc abroad; what makes a film foreign? 
By Fernanda Rossi 

24 FIRST PERSON 

A festival in Perth, Australia 
By Richard Sowada 

27 Q/A 

Actress Bai Ling 

By Rebecca Carroll 

31 ON THE SCENE 

The African Film Festival at Eyebeam 
By Douglas Singleton 

34 FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 

INPUT: Public Television's annual conference 
By Niall McKay 



Features 



36 THE BBC BULLY 

Nick Fraser's expanding empire 
By Lisa Selin Davis 

40 BEYOND BOLLYWOOD 

The new, new Indian cinema 
By David Aim 

44 ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO 

The next chapter in cinema 
By Victor Payan 

48 FOREIGN FILM DISTRIBUTORS 

From full-service to start-up 
By Margaret Coble 



52 LEGAL 

The art of negotiating film distribution 
By Fernando Ramirez, Esq. 

54 POLICY 

Public broadcasting's right turn 
Bv Matt Dunne 



Listings 

56 FESTIVALS 
63 CLASSIFIEDS 
66 NOTICES 

69 WORK WANTED 

70 SALONS 

71 THANKS 

72 THE LIST 



www.aivf.org 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 3 



11 



Feb. 16, 17,&18,2006-Starkville,MS 



Our 9th annual "Mag" welcomes 
all genres, all lengths, in competition 
for awards. The "Mag" was founded 
by Ron Tibbett to celebrate his vision 
of Independent film in Mississippi. It 
has been called the most filmmaker 
friendly festival by many of our past 
contributors. Entry fees are $25 feature, 
$15 shorts and $10 student film. We 
are proud partners with Rhode Island 
International Film Festival, Tupelo 
Film Festival, Crossroads Film Festival 
and Indie Memphis. 



R* 



Congrats to all 2005 Mag winners including Aruna Naimji's "One Balloon", 
E.S. Wochensky's "Shoot the Moon", Joe Scott's "Ocean Front Property" 
and Joel Fendelman's "Tuesday". 

We look forward to seeing you down in the deep South. 



Entry Forms: Download at www.magfilmfest.com 
or write to: Festival Director 

2269 Waverly Drive 

West Point, MS 39773 



Phone: (662) 494-5836 
Fax: (662) 494-9900 



The Reel Vision Filmmakers' Conference 

the edge to succeed 

is within your grasp 

It 's time for a new day to rise on the silver screen. 

Make it your vision. 




Pamela lave Smith : Founder, 
Mythworks; Producer/Writer 
/Director for Paramount Pictures, 
Columbia-Sony. 

Dr. Sam Smiley : Screenwriter, 

author of Playwritmg: the 

Structure of Action. 



Cutting edge 
instruction: 

Mark Steven Bosko : Distribution, 
wrote The Complete Independent 
Movie Marketing Handbook. 

Kate McCallum : Writer /Producer in . 
development at NBC/Universal TV, 
created "The Great Idea" for sci(i)pt. 

Dr. Linda Seg er: Studio Script Consultant, 
author of Making a Good Script Great. 



Pre-conference tour of western film location Old Tucson Studios. 

October 21 - 23, 2005 

Radisson City Center 



Sponsored by: 

ReelInpiration 
the Tucson Film Office 
& the Hansen Institute 



rUGSON,A^ 



www.reelinspiration.org 
reelinspitation@hotmail.com 




Publisher: Bienvenida Matias 
[publisher@aivf org] 

Editor-in-Chief: Rebecca Carroll 

[editor@aivf org] 

Managing Editor: Shana Liebman 

[independent@aivf org] 

Assistant Editor: Rick Harrison 

(fact@aivf.org] 

Designer: R. Benjamin Brown 

[benbrowngraphic@msn com] 

Production Associate: Timothy Schmidt 
[graphics@aivf.org] 

Editorial Associate: Lindsay Gelfand 

[notices@aivf.org] 

Contributing Editors: 

Sherman Alexie, David Aim, Pat Aufderheide, 

Monique Cormier, Bo Mehrad, Cara Mertes, Kate Turtle 

Contributing Writers: 

Elizabeth Angell, Margaret Coble, Lisa Selin Davis, 

Matt Dunne, Gadi Harel, Rick Harrison 

Advertising Representative: Veronica Shea 

(212) 807-1400 x232, [veronica@aivf.org] 

Advertising Representative: Michael Tierno 

(212) 807-1400 x234, [mike@aivf.org] 

Classified Advertising: Michael Tierno 

(212) 807-1400 x241, [classif ieds@aivf org] 

■ 

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POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: 

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The Independent USSN 1077-8918) is published monthly (except 
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Foundation for Independent Video and Film (FIVF), a 501(c)(3) 
dedicated to the advancement of media arts and artists. 
Subscription to the magazine is included in annual membership 
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Publication of any ad in The Independent does not constitute an 
endorsement. AIVF/FIVF are not responsible for any claims made in 
an ad All contents are copyright of the Foundation for Independent 
Video and Film, Inc. Reprints require written permission and acknowl- 
edgement of the article's previous appearance in The Independent 
The Independent is indexed in the Alternative Press Index and is a 
member of the Independent Press Association. 

AIVF/FIVF staff: Bienvenida Matias, executive director, 
Sonia Malta, program director, Pnscilla Grim, membership director, 
Bo Mehrad, information services director; Fred Grim, 
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AIVF/FIVF legal counsel: Robert I. Freedman, Esq.. Cowan, DeBaets, 
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© Foundation for Independent Video & Film, Inc. 2005 
Visit The Independent online at: www.aivf.org 



4 The Independent I July/August 2005 







EDITOR'S LETTER 



Dear Readers, 

I love people with reputations — big, 
fierce, impressive ones that scare you a 
little, but then also intrigue the hell out of 
you. I don't mean the Michael Jackson 
variety of reputation. More along the lines 
of the BBC's Nick Fraser. Show me a film 
industry person who doesn't know who 
this guy is, and who wouldn't do some 
pretty dastardly deeds in order to get a 
meeting with him. But the guy has a 
reputation for being a little, how shall we 
call it, salty? I'd only heard stories when I 
met him for the first time at Sundance a 
couple years ago, and frankly, I found him 
to be a perfect delight. But then I go for 
that kind of highbrow, intellectual, some- 
times smug Brit type; before that atrocious 
Yellow Dog book, I was a huge Martin 
Amis fan. 

Our own Lisa Selin Davis had the 
opportunity to talk with Nick Fraser, head 
commissioner or the BBC's "Storyville," in 
May, when he was in New York for all of 
five minutes, and I'm thrilled to have her 
feature profile of him lead off our first ever 
"Foreign Film" and/or "World Cinema" 
issue (page 36). We didn't exactly go about 
defining what we meant by that. Rather, I 
thought it would be interesting to look at 
some places, cultures, and peoples around 
the world and see what kind of film com- 
munities they have — what kinds of stories 
the films and filmmakers are telling, their 
varying styles and perspectives, and what 
the future of their respective communities 
looks like. 

The ever eloquent and curious David 
Aim gives a great portrait of what's hap- 
pening with film in India — both the more 



independent angle as well as the whole 
"Bollywood" business (page 40). San 
Diego-based freelancer Victor Payan looks 
at new film movements in Mexico and 
making movies in Tijuana (page 44), while 
Revelation Film Festival director Richard 
Sowada filed a First Person piece from 
Perth, Australia, where the gin is cold and 
the projector's hot (page 24). He writes: 
"[Revelation's] philosophy and approach is 
simple, and the background or the event is 
found in smoke-filled noisy bars and 
venues well outside of established film cir- 
cuits and more accustomed to wild rock 
than celluloid." 

We have a gorgeous Production Journal 
from Haitian-born filmmaker Michele 
Stephenson, who undertook what sounds 
to be a terrifically inspired and somewhat 
dangerous journey to document human 
rights activism around the world (page 
15). And Sarah Coleman profiles the 
smart, visionary filmmaker Margarethe 
von Trotta. The fact that she's a woman is 
totally incidental (page 19). 

I talked to Bai Ling, who is just as free 
and spirited as she wants to be, about her 
festival film The Beautiful Country (page 
27), acting, and posing for Playboy. And 
by the way, who do you have to sleep with 
these days to get a left-leaning 
program on public television? The 
Independents policy columnist Matt 
Dunne, who recently announced that he is 
running for Congress, sheds some light 
(page 54). 

Enjoy, and thanks for reading 
The Independent, 
Rebecca Carroll 



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July/August 2005 I The Independent 5 




Two men enter an apartment never to 
be seen alive again in this true story that 
shocked France. 




Official Selection , 

Cannes F I 
» Fesi 



Dirk Bogarde and Jane Bbkin star ii 
tender story of a father and daughter 
reconnecting after years of separation 
and distance. 



WIRRUMS 



lower com 



1 2005 KOCH lorber films UC 



LORBER 



CONTRII 



DAVID ALM teaches film history and 
writing at two colleges in Chicago. His writ- 
ing has appeared in Artbyte, Camerawork, 
RES, Silicon Alley Reporter, SOMA, and the 
The Utne Reader. He's also contributed to 
books on web design and digital filmmak- 
ing, and assisted in making documentaries 
about architecture and garbage. 




MARGARET COBLE is a freelance 
journalist whose writing has appeared in 
The Advocate, Curve magazine, Southern 
Voice, and other print and online publica- 
tions. She is also a DJ, folk artist, music pro- 
moter, and one of the organizers of Reel 
Identities, New Orleans's LGBT film festi- 
val. Visit her website and blog at 
www.djmags.com. 

SARAH COLEMAN is books editor of 
Planet magazine and writes on the arts for 
various publications. She has an MFA in 
fiction writing from Columbia University 
and hopes to put it to use some day soon. 
Her journalism has appeared in New York, 
Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, 
and The Boston Phoenix, among others. 

LISA SELIN DAVIS is the author of the 
novel, Belly, forthcoming from Little, 
Brown & Co., and a freelance writer in New 
York. 

MATT DUNNE is the Democratic 
state senator of Vermont and founder of the 
Vermont Film Commission. Previously, he 
served two and a half years as National 
Director of AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers 
in Service to America) and four terms as a 
Vermont state representative. 



LEAH HOCHBAUM has spent an 
extraordinarily large chunk of her life 
doing grunt work for the higher-ups at 
Rolling Stone, Jane, and Us Weekly. When 
she is good, they sometimes let her write 
things. Her work has appeared in Time 
Out New York, The Blueprint, The 
Forward and Video Age International. 




NIALL MCKAY is a San Francisco- 
based freelance writer and broadcast jour- 
nalist. Currently, he is an associate at the 
Center for Investigative Reporting in San 
Francisco where he has been working on 
the Latino prison gangs project. Recently, 
Niall shot and edited a documentary 
about racism in Ireland and a documen- 
tary about Samoa's fafafine (men who are 
raised as women). He has written for San 
Francisco magazine, The Economist, The 
Financial Times, Wired, Salon, and The 
New York Times. His broadcast credits 
include RTE and National Public Radio's 
KQED FM in San Francisco. Niall is the 
director of Filum: The San Francisco Irish 
Film Festival. More information at 
www.niall.org. 

VICTOR PAYAN is a writer and pro- 
ducer based in San Diego. He served as 
associate producer for the PBS documen- 
taries The U.S.-Mexican War: 1846-1848, 
The Border, and Searching for San Diego: 
San Ysidro and is currently developing a 
project called Aztec Gold. He also writes 
for the San Diego Latino Film Festival. 



6 The Independent I July/August 2005 



UTORS 



FERNANDO RAMIREZ, ESQ. is an 

attorney in private practice in New York 
City, where he lives with his wife and 12- 
year-old son/aspiring doc-maker. He gradu- 
ated from Fordham University and earned 
his law degree from Brooklyn Law School. 
His work involves transactional entertain- 
ment law. He drafts, reviews, and negotiates 
industry agreements, and he advises on 
copyright, trademark, contracts, privacy, 
and business formation matters for inde- 
pendent filmmakers, executive producers, 
media personalities, songwriters, personal 
managers, independent labels, and non- 
profit film organizations. 

FERNANDA ROSSI, known as the 
Documentary Doctor, is a filmmaker and 
story consultant who helps filmmakers craft 
the story structure of their films in all stages 
of the filmmaking process. She has doctored 
over 100 documentaries and fiction scripts 
and is the author of Trailer Mechanics: A 
Guide to Making Your Documentary 
Fundraising Trailer. For more information: 
www.documentarydoctor.com. 




DOUGLAS SINGLETON writes film 
and theater criticism for The Brooklyn Rail 
and for L Magazine. His website, 
www.dispactke.com, features photography, 
prose, and multimedia experimentation. A 
photography installation and screening of a 
short film collaboration with Nadege 
Catenacci, Spatial Fragile Raw, was shown 
at White Rabbit in March. When summer 
calls, "Doug come-a-running." 




RICHARD SOWADA is one of 

Australia's most active screen culture prac- 
titioners. His expertise includes over 15 
years in production, distribution, exhibi- 
tion, curating, strategic planning, and 
screen-event board participation. He is 
committed to the development of local 
audiences and the embracing of progres- 
sive industry practices. Currently, he is 
pursuing a PhD concerning the WWII 
works of Frank Capra and their influence 
on documentary. He is founder and direc- 
tor of the Revelation Perth International 
Film Festival and works as a consultant to 
the Australian Film Commission and 
National Screen and Sound Archive. 




MICHELE STEPHENSON is a 

Haitian-born filmmaker and former 
human rights attorney. She has trained 
human rights activists from all over the 
world in video production and produced 
award-winning documentaries and video 
production guides for grassroots activists. 
With a commitment to making personal 
human stories that are too often excluded 
from mainstream media, Stephenson and 
her husband, Joe Brewster, recently 
launched their production company, The 
Rada Film Group. Excerpts of their work 
can be found at www.radafilm.com. 

We regret misspelling Nick Schager s name 
in his photo caption in the June issue. 




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July/August 2005 I The Independent 7 




Jacques Weber, Emmanueile Bead and 
Penelope Cruz star in this glorious 
adaptation about the greatest scoundrel 
who ever walked the earth. 

WHO'S THE DADDY? 




WINNER 

Best Actor ^ 

Special Jury Prize 
Paris Film Festival 

Mathieu Kassovitz's (Gothika) audacious, 
award-winning comedy about an interracial 
trio coming to grips with joint parenthood. 

Now available for rent at blockbuster.com 




BLOCKBUSTER Online 

The Movie Store At Your Door. 

© 2005 France Television Distribution, 
2005 KOCH Lorber films LLC All Rights 
Reserved kochlorbi films com LORBER 



NEWS 




2J2J Entertainment 

Steven Soderbergh's new experiment 
is bigger than Julia's boobs 



By Leah Hochbaum 

Steven Soderbergh likes to experi- 
ment. He experimented with 
Julia Roberts's boobs in Erin 
Brockovich. He experimented with view- 
ers' patience in Full Frontal. And now, 
through the Oscar-winning director's 
new deal with 2929 Entertainment to 
direct six films to debut simultaneously 
in movie theaters, on DVD, and on 
satellite TV, he's experimenting with the 
very way the film industry works. 

"It's about choice," said Todd Wagner, 
co-owner and CEO of the California- 



based 2929. "We're letting people decide 
for the first time if they want to stay 
home when a movie debuts, to see it 
'live,' or rent it for viewing at their con- 
venience. 1 truly believe it has the poten- 
tial to forever change the economics of 
making and releasing movies." 

The films made during this "day and 
date" initiative — as 2929 is calling it — 
will be budgeted at $1-2 million, pro- 
duced in 1080i high-definition format, 
then released concurrently in Landmark 
Theatres, a chain owned by 2929, and 



8 The Independent I July/August 2005 



on HDNet Movies, a high-def cable 
channel also owned by the entertain- 
ment company. To keep it all in the fam- 
ily, distribution will be through 2929's 
Magnolia Pictures label. 

Soderbergh, the brains behind such 
films as Traffic (2000), The Limey 
(1999), and Sex, Lies, and Videotape 
(1989), will maintain creative control 
over all six pictures, a prospect that 
might have frightened most entertain- 
ment bigwigs — but not those at 2929. 

"I had gotten to know Steven over the 
last couple of years by being producing 
partners on Criminal and The Jacket" 
said Wagner, speaking for himself and 
2929 co-founder and Dallas Mavericks 
owner Mark Cuban. "I respect him a 
great deal for his honesty and integrity — 
which is often in short supply in this 
business. He's a great fit for us in that he 
still enjoys making smaller budget indie- 
type movies." 

In a written statement, Soderbergh 
shared Wagner's enthusiasm for the 
endeavor: "I'm excited to work with 
Todd and Mark, and appreciate the free- 
dom to create independent films under 
this new distribution model. All of us see 
consumer choice driving the future of 
the movie industry, and this is a giant 
leap in that direction." 

Though Soderbergh's high-definition 
projects will mark the first time that the- 
atrical movies are released in this man- 
ner, HDNet Films — a production com- 
pany owned by 2929 — has already 
employed this strategy with a documen- 
tary. 

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, 
HDNet Film's very first production, was 
released theatrically by Magnolia 
Pictures in April and simultaneously pre- 
miered on HDNet Movies. 

Soderbergh is already hard at work on 
the first film for this new enterprise, 
Bubble, a murder mystery set in Ohio. 
And, in keeping with his modus operan- 
di of rampant experimentation, he's 
hired regular people from the town 
where the movie is set instead of profes- 
sional actors. Of course, in attempting to 
consolidate a film's marketing costs into 
a single, shorter time frame, 2929 is also 
futzing around with the unknown. But 



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July/August 2005 I The Independent 9 



considering they own the theater chain 
and the movie channel these films will 
air on, they're pretty much free to exper- 
iment all they want now, aren't they. 

The Low Budget Agreement 

In its first year in 2002, just four writ- 
ers and would-be filmmakers submitted 
their works for consideration to a pilot 
program offered by the Writers Guild of 
America. In its second year, there were 
1 1. And in 2004, 35 films were made as 
a result of the Low Budget Agreement. 

Though it's too early to tell how many 
films will be made this year — an 
unnamed number are currently pend- 
ing — it's safe to say that writers with big 
dreams and small budgets are slowly but 
surely realizing that if they want to see 
their films on the silver screen, the Low 
Budget Agreement is the way to go. 

"The situation is evolving," said Kay 
Schaber, an independent film program 
executive for Writers Guild of America, 
west, when reached at her Los Angeles 
office. "With digital gaining in popular- 
ity, there's more of an opportunity to do 
low-budget films these days. It's so much 
easier than it used to be." 

Available in 2002 — though all but 
unheard of until last year when WGA 
officials started putting the word out 
full-force at film festivals all over the 
nation — the agreement, which is only 
offered at the writer's request, allows for 
the deferral of all or part of the purchase 
compensation for an existing screenplay. 

For films budgeted at $500,000 and 
below, the entire purchase price and the 
first rewrite can be deferred. For films 
budgeted between $500,000 and $1.2 
million, $10,000 of the purchase price is 
paid at the start of filming, and the 
rewrite may be completely deferred. 

Despite the obvious benefits of this 
deal, it's taken filmmakers a while to 
catch on to this seemingly easy way to 
finance their low-budget indies — due 
mostly to writers' fears of forfeiting their 
rights to reacquire their material should 
the film wallow in development hell. But 
writers need not worry about losing their 
babies — the agreement clearly states that 
should the flick not be made within 18 
months, writers are entitled to reacquire 



ieric 



mca't 






■ 



■ 




,0-90—° 



Rodrigo Garcia was one of four writers who 
capitalized on a new kind of WGA contract for his 
film. Nine Lives (WGA) 



their material. 

And so those in the know at WGA 
engaged an army of attorneys and agents 
at Sundance, Slamdance and the Los 
Angeles Film Festival to educate and 
edify those whom they hope will one day 
be among the filmmaking elite. "We 
believe the market for films in this budg- 
et range is growing," said Academy 
Award-winning and WGA Award-nomi- 
nated screenwriter Bill Condon in a 
statement. "As it does, so should the 
Guild's protections of those writers 
whose voices are being represented on 
screen." 

Four films whose writers capitalized 
on this WGA contract debuted at 
Sundance this year. Brick, Rian Johnson's 
directorial debut about a teenage loner 
forced into the seedy underbelly of high 
school crime when the girl he loves turns 
up dead; Nine Lives, a female relation- 
ship drama from Rodrigo Garcia; Hard 
Candy, Brian Nelson's titillating screen- 
play of a 32-year-old man who brings 
home a 14-year-old girl he befriends on 
the internet; and Ellie Parker, Scott 
Coffey's comedic take on the life of a 
struggling actress. Most if not all of these 
films would probably never have been 
produced if not for the agreement. 

The latter film, which stars Naomi 



Watts as the eponymous heroine, was 
shot on a $1,000 camera without sound 
or lighting. Low budget is as low 
budget does. 

Did 20th Century Fox pull a Milli 
Vanilli? 

They hired Keanu. They draped 
Laurence Fishburne in leather. They 
made those fight scenes look hella good. 
Nobody's challenging the Wachowski 
brothers' ample contributions as direc- 
tors of The Matrix trilogy. But what is 
currently in dispute in a California court 
is whether or not they actually wrote the 
futuristic saga — or simply ripped off the 
idea from someone else. 

Bronx-born screenwriter Sophia 
Stewart claims that The Third Eye, an 
epic she says she wrote in the early 80s, 
was used as the seed for all three Matrix 
films and all three Terminator films, and 
is suing a whole mess of people to prove 
it, including the Wachowskis, 20th 
Century Fox, Warner Bros., and 
Terminator director James Cameron. 

"It's a ridiculous claim," said Bruce 
Isaacs, an attorney for Warner Bros., 
pointing out that Stewart's main claim to 
Terminator ownership is that her script 
contained the phrase: "We will be back," 
while the finished product contained the 



10 The Independent I July/August 2005 



similar but singular and contracted "I'll 
be back." Arnold Schwarzenegger's 
cyborg success came out in 1984. 
"Where has she been for the last 20 
years?" Isaacs asked. 

She's been around. But not going to 
the movies a whole lot, apparently. "I did 
not see The Terminator" Stewart said, 
when reached at her home in Las Vegas. 
"If I had seen it, I would've filed suit way 
before 2003." The self-proclaimed 
"Mother of the Matrix," Stewart is like a 
spurned and more litigious version of the 
film's kindly, wise Oracle character. She 
contends that she submitted her work to 
20th Century Fox in the early 80s but 
never heard back. And Stewart thought 
little of it until years later when she final- 
ly watched the movie, was shocked to see 
her own story in Cameron's The 
Terminator, and felt sure that Fox had 
passed her work on to the future Titanic 
director. 

Fox asserts that it had no involvement 
with any of the three Terminator films — 
that it neither produced nor owns any of 
the pictures and passed nothing on to 
Cameron. "She keeps talking about how 




The Matrix, which Stewart claims she created (courtesy Warner Bros. 




July/August 2005 I The Independent 11 




Sophia Stewart (courtesy Sophia Stewart) 



she had access to Fox," said Isaacs. "OK, 
why does this have any significance?" 
Because Stewart thinks it does. 

"I'm the real thing like Coca-Cola," 
she said. "I shopped [my book] to Fox 
return receipt and I've got a paper trail to 
prove it. These people are all about tak- 
ing your money, screwing you, and mak- 
ing you like it all along." 

As for The Matrix, Stewart avers that 
Andy and Larry Wachowski placed an ad 
in a national magazine in 1986 asking 
for science-fiction scripts, and she sent 



hers in response. "Andy was in high 
school and Larry was in college in 
1986," Isaacs said. "They never ran this 
advertisement. They never got stuff 
from her." 

He contends that he has asked 
Stewart repeatedly for a copy of this ad, 
but that she has yet to produce it, 
adding that the Wachowskis wrote The 
Matrix themselves between 1992 and 
1993, then pitched it to producer Joel 
Silver, who in turn pitched it to Warner 
Bros. 

Stewart sees it differently. She's posi- 
tive that the story is hers, recognizing 
similarities between the two, including 
characters, dialogue and major plot 
points, and she is pushing ahead with 
her lawsuit. 

"In Stewart's story, she has a messiah 
figure," Isaacs said. " The Matrix has a 
messiah figure in Neo [played by Keanu 
Reeves]. She thinks this is an indication 
that someone has appropriated her 
material. But there are all sorts of messiah 
figures out there. There's Moses and Jesus 
and Luke SkywaJker. In analyzing the sim- 
ilarities, there's really nothing there." 



But Stewart won't have it. 

"I thought writers discussed their 
work with the public," she said, noting 
that the Wachowski brothers are almost 
as famous for their refusal to do any press 
for three of the biggest films of the last 
decade as they are for helming those 
same three films. She views this as an 
admission of their guilt lor pilfering her 
piece so freely. 

"It's like someone trying to talk for 
Rembrandt. How the hell could some- 
one talk for Rembrandt if they never 
painted a masterpiece themselves? 
They've so cleverly pulled the wool over 
people's eyes that hell, they're in the 
Matrix." 

Isaacs is confident that once any judge 
hears Stewart's allegations that the law- 
suit will be thrown out entirely, but he is 
prepared to go to trial if necessary. "I 
hope to prove that none of my clients 
had access to her material and that there 
just ain't similarities there." 

Stewart, though, itches for her day in 
court. "They pulled a Milli Vanilli," she 
said. "That's soine to come out." 




K6 'JM ■> - - 



A'fcNBC NEWS ARCHIVES 



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TELEPHONE: 212 664 3797 FAX: 212 703 3558 



12 The Independent I July/August 2005 



National Conference for Media 
Reform 

There's something wrong with the 
world today and — though Democrats 
throughout the nation are positive it's 
because of Fox News's very existence — it's 
gradually become clear that there's really 
something amiss with the media at large. 

More than 2,200 communications 
industry insiders gathered in May at the 
Millennium Hotel in downtown St. Louis 
for the National Conference for Media 
Reform to discuss the issue. "I think that 
across the country, everyone feels there's 
something terribly wrong with the 
media," said media consultant and con- 
ference attendee Alyce Myatt. "There 
have been lots of distractions lately — with 
indecency and all of that," she said, refer- 
ring to the FCC's post-Superbowl breast- 
suppress-fest. "That's certainly an issue, 
but the fact is that we don't have open 
media, and we're calling ourselves a 
democracy. The conference was able to 
tap that distress." 

Panels on media ownership and consol- 
idation, media activism, and grassroots 
organizing for media change were held 



throughout the three-day sold-out con- 
ference, which was hosted by the Free 
Press, a nonpartisan media reform group 
based in Northampton, Massachusetts. 
The conference — organized with the pur- 
pose of trying to figure out how to fix 
what's wrong with today's newspapers, 
magazines, and broadcast media — 
attracted the likes of left-wing comedian 
cum Air America radio host Al Franken, 
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on 
Journalism director Robert Greenwald, 
and Bill Moyers of PBS, who gave a 
scathing speech calling for a series of 
town hall meetings where viewers can talk 
directly to station managers about what 
they really want from public broadcast- 
ing. 

"That great mob that is democracy is 
rarely heard," said Moyers, former host of 
the public broadcaster's newsmagazine 
'NOW with Bill Moyers,'" speaking 
before a jam-packed room. "That's not 
the fault of the current residents of the 
White House and Capitol. There is a 
great chasm between those of us in the 
business and those who depend on TV 
and radio as their window to the world. 



We treat them too much like audiences 
and not enough like citizens. They are 
invited to look through the window, but 
too infrequently to participate." Myatt 
echoed Moyers's sentiments. "There isn't 
sufficient outreach to the community," 
she said. "We'd like to see stronger bridges 
between media outlets and the public." 

Also present at the conference were 
FCC commissioners Michael Copps and 
Jonathan Adelstein, who asked for the 
public's aid in getting their agency to with- 
stand new efforts to loosen up rules allow- 
ing big corporations to buy more TV and 
radio stations. While the conference drew 
tons of media attention, it remains to be 
seen whether or not it will actually be an 
effective tool for media reform. 

"Reform is a long-term investment 
with lots of moving parts and pieces," said 
attendee Karen Helmerson, director of 
the Electronic Media and Film Program 
at the New York State Council on the 
Arts. Myatt agreed, adding: "Media 
impacts every aspect of our lives. 
Something terribly wrong has happened, 
and it's incumbent upon us to rectify 
what's wrong." "k 



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July/August 2005 I The Independent 13 



UTILIZE IT 



Tools You Can Use 



By David Aim 




Fisheye lens 



A Fisheye View 

This spring, Van Nuys-based 
Schneider Optics introduced a new fish- 
eye lens designed specifically for con- 
sumer DV camcorders. Priced below 
$3,000, the Xtreme Fisheye mounts 
directly onto the front of a camcorder's 
lens to provide a horizontal angled view 
of approximately 160 degrees. The man- 
ufacturer touts the lens's suitability 
for action sports footage, 
music videos, and tight 
shots that might be impos- 
sible without such a wide- 
angle lens. Acid trips, 
voyeur POV shots, and 
other such uses are up to 
you and your creative 
discretion. 
www.centuryoptics.com 




WingBag 



It's in the Bag 

Two new bags from Petrol, a 
Tel Aviv-based bag-manufacturing firm, 
prove that your camera's carriage can be 
almost as complex as the camera itself. 
Made of heavy-duty Cordura and ballis- 
tic nylon over multiple layers of shock- 
absorbent foam padding, the lightweight 
WingBag and WingRoll bags are tailored 
specifically for Sony HVR-ZIU and 
HDR-FX1 camcorders. Featuring multi- 
ple compartments, semi-rigid dividers, 



mesh pockets, and 

even an adjustable 

ergonomic shoulder 

strap, the WingBag sells 

for $199. If long walks 

await your next shoot, you might opt for 

the WingRoll, equipped with inline 

skates and a square-frame tote bar, for 

$229. www.petrolbags.com. 

Another option lor those whose 
projects take them to 
the mountains, white- 
water rapids, or just 
the inclement streets 
of Manhattan comes 
from Centennial, 
Colorado-based bag- 
makers, M-ROCK. 
With names like 
Cascade, Niagara, and 
High Sierra, M-ROCK's 
bags are designed for 
rough play and condi- 
tions. The company's 
latest edition combines its Yellowstone, a 
large bag that can accommodate any dig- 
ital SLR camera and features a weather 
jacket, rainflap, straps for your raincoat 
or tripod, and shoulder straps that allow 
the bag to be worn as a back — or chest- 
pack, with two smaller bags for your 
mini-cams and accessories — the Biscayne 
Bay and the Yosemite — attached. 
www.m-rock.com 




M-ROCK Yosemite bag 



Sweet Suite 

Convergence is 

great, allowing web 
designers to foray into 
filmmaking, photogra- 
phers into web design, 
and just about any other 
move within the new 
media landscape you can 
imagine. But keeping all that 
software straight is enough to 
drive anyone mad. Hence Creative Suite, 
a new "design environment" from Adobe 
that consists of many of the company's 
most useful programs, such as 
Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. 
The standard package includes six pro- 
grams for $899. And for an extra two, 
pony up: the premium suite runs $1,199. 
www.adobe.com 

Go, Go, Go! 

Lightweight, handheld cameras availed 
a whole new world to filmmakers when 
they first hit the scene. Now, with laptops 
and wireless technology, the same can be 
said for the back-end: editing and pro- 
duction. Fronting this effort comes Incite 
RP, an editing software package from the 
Geneva-based Incite Avexco Corpor- 
ation. Incite RP essentially turns any lap- 
top (or desktop) into a complete DV pro- 
duction suite by streamlining all aspects 
of the digital production process into one 
mobile program. It is designed to keep 
pace with ever-advancing developments 
in HD and SD hardware and can expand 
to accommodate new file formats of 
MXF, XD CAM, and HDV 
www.inciteonline.com *k 



14 The Independent I July/August 2005 



PRODUCTION JOURNAL 



Faces of 
Change 



By Michele Stephenson 

The concept was to bring five 
human rights activists from 
around the world to New York 
City for an intensive video workshop — 
each activist would receive their own 
camera. We would all brainstorm on 
what stories they wanted to tell about 
their communities and how to tell them. 
My task was to train the activists and 
later interweave their visual stories into a 
coherent feature-length documentary. It 
sounded simple enough. I had done 
video training workshops with grassroots 
activists in the past and had conducted 
them in different parts of the world. But 
prior field experience couldn't have pre- 
pared me for what was to come. 

The participants on this international 
story were: an African American environ- 
mental activist; a Roma ("Gypsy") attor- 
ney from Bulgaria; an Afro-Brazilian teen 
counselor from Northeast Brazil; A Dalit 
("Untouchable") activist from southern 
India; and an ex-slave from Mauritania, 
Africa. Production started in June 2001, 
and in a pre- 9/11 world, the visa process 
for getting them all here was smoother 
than expected. The major obstacle came 
from our Mauritanian partner, 




An unpredictable convergence of 
human rights activists 



Mohamed, who worked with an under- 
ground abolitionist movement treeing 
slaves and offering them better life 
opportunities. Because of the kind of 
work he did, Mohamed was extremely 
vigilant and at times seemed paranoid. 
The Mauritanian government had 
Mohamed and his colleagues under sur- 
veillance. We soon found out that 
Mohamed's plane ticket to New York 
City was being withheld at customs in 
Mauritania. He was convinced that his 
ticket was being purposely kept in order 
to stop him from attending the work- 
shop. He almost didn't make it. 

Stubborn as our team was, we did not 
allow Mohamed's initial absence to dis- 
suade us. Unable to get through to 
Mohamed by phone, I must have gone 
five or six times to JFK airport to see if he 
had arrived. We hoped he had gotten his 
ticket in time for the workshop. But no 
such luck. His ticket was finally released 




from customs, but too late for him to get 
the chance to meet the other participants. 
He finally made it to New York, and I 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 15 




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was able to conduct a one-on-one work- 
shop with him that lasted over four days. 
By the time he returned home, his confi- 
dence was up and he was ready to roll. 

The workshop also brought many 
unexpected revelations and connections. 
We started by sharing our personal expe- 
riences of discrimination and racism. 
Each of our stories was extremely 
poignant and moving, but the most 
revealing was that all were similar and 
somehow interconnected. Across the 
board it was obvious that our sense of self 
worth and entitlement had been tainted 
and partially shaped by the pressures of 
institutional discrimination and lack of 
opportunity. Could the camera help us 
become more whole, help us heal the psy- 
chological damage we had all suffered 
due to the pervasive nature of prejudice 
around our everyday lives? We had to 
wait and see. 




Kathir filming in India: He interviewed victims of extreme caste 
violence (Michele Stephenson) 



Whereas our personal stories connect- 
ed us as human beings, it was also obvi- 
ous that many of us had thrown our 
entire selves, for different reasons — some 
noble, some less noble — into huge insti- 
tutional battles to improve members of 
our respective communities. It was obvi- 
ous our partners were on the frontlines of 
the fight for equality in their countries, 
documenting atrocious living conditions 
and, in some cases, literally risking their 
lives. Kathir in India, for example, was 
busy interviewing victims of extreme 



caste violence in village communities; 
whereas Nara, in Brazil, was working 
with black girls as young as 1 1 who 
found themselves pregnant and out of 
school for good. Mohamed was con- 
fronting government officials and con- 
ducting clandestine interviews with 
enslaved people. What had also become 
obvious at each arrival of a new tape was 
a greater sense of confidence from our 
partners, both in what they shot as well as 
in their message. 

On the final phase of production I 
traveled to shoot our partners in their 
countries. The first stop: New Orleans. 
Then off to Bulgaria, Brazil, India and 
finally, Mauritania. Production took 
close to a year to complete. The most 
dramatically memorable moments 
occurred in Mauritania. Every aspect of 
my psychological makeup would be 
tested during that 10-day visit. Although 
mind-blowing 
events occurred in 
every country, our 
misadventures in 
Mauritania are 
enough of a 
glimpse to give a 
sense of what we 
were all up against. 
Before traveling 
to a muslim coun- 
try like Mauri- 
tania with another 
woman and with a 
tourist visa, I had 
consulted with the 
underground 
Mauritania activists 
both in New York 
and Mauritania. 

According to them, if I were to travel with 
a journalist visa I risked the possibility of 
having a government agent follow my every 
move. The problem was that since 
Mauritania gets little to no tourism, we 
had to have a cover. We had to obtain a 
visa to Mali to explain, if we were ever 
stopped, that we were visiting the region 
and were on our way to Mali, a more 
attractive tourist destination. 

About a week before we were sched- 
uled to leave, Mauritanian army officers 
attempted a coup to overthrow the presi- 



16 The Independent I July/August 2005 




The most dramatically memorable moments of production occurred in Mauritania (Michele Stephenson) 



dent, Ahmed Taya. The attempted coup 
failed, but it left the capital city and the 
government on edge, searching every 
nook and cranny for potential dissidents. 
My executive producer suggested I cancel 
the trip. He was concerned for my safety 
and possible liability issues if something 
were to happen to our two-person crew. I 
consulted with Mohamed. He seemed 
very calm on the phone and explained that 
it would be safe for me to come. My DP 
was ready and eager to go. After much dis- 
cussion with her and with my family, I 
made the decision to keep to the planned 
schedule. This project had to be finished, 
and any further delays would not guaran- 
tee that the country would be any safer 
later in the year. 

In Mauritania's capital city, there were 
checkpoints at every street corner and 
identity papers were checked at every road 
leading out of the city. Our driver, Diaw, 
had to get out of his car to open his trunk 
for police checks at least 10 to 12 times a 
day. On our first meeting at the hotel, 



Mohamed instructed me that we could 
never be seen together. He had not pre- 
pared me for this in our email communi- 
cations prior to my trip. We would have to 
drive to his house in the evening, hide the 
car and interview him and his family 
there. Since the workshop and because of 
Mohamed's use of the camera, he had 
acquired significant political clout within 
the abolitionist movement and within 
larger Mauritanian political circles. As a 
result, he was encouraged to run for 
mayor of his district, and he won the race. 
This new job meant his actions were 
under even more surveillance than before. 
So, we devised a tape circulation system 
so the sensitive tapes we recorded would 
not stay in our possession and would 
immediately be sent to New York on a 
daily basis. We would, of course keep the 
beauty shots that were on tape with us so 
as not to blow our tourist cover in case we 
were searched. We would shoot during the 
day, make dubs of the tapes at night in our 
hotel rooms, stop by DHL in the morn- 



ing, and send off the masters to our office 
in Harlem. The dubs would stay in 
Mohamed's home for safe keeping if for 
some reason the masters never made it to 
Harlem. Although time consuming, this 
system proved indispensable, because on 
two separate occasions our covers were 
almost blown. 

The shooting restrictions severely lim- 
ited what I had set out to capture prior to 
our trip. Our cover was almost blown on 
one occasion when we went to the more 
affluent neighborhoods of the capital 
city, Nouakchott to shoot, and were 
stopped by a light-skinned female 
Mauritanian pulling out of her driveway. 
She got out of her car and started to yell 
at my DP, demanding to confiscate the 
tape that was in the camera. I began 
pleading with her — in my mind there 
was no way I was going to give up that 
tape. We had a whole day's worth of 
work on it and could not return to some 
of the locations we had covered. At each 
resistance she became more hysterical. 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 17 



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People had started to gather around us 
to find out what all the yelling and com- 
motion was about. 

Diaw tried to explain that we were 
simply tourists shooting various scenes of 
Nouakchott, that we meant no harm. She 
remained unconvinced and doggedly 
stubborn. She then insisted that we go 
with her to the home of her "private 
videographer" to erase the images from 
our tape. I agreed so long as we followed 
her in our car. She didn't go for that. We 
had to go in her car or no deal. In a split 
second, I had to make a decision: perhaps 
risk my life and get in the car with her — 
having no idea where I would end up — 
or give up the tape before more of a scan- 
dal broke out and the police arrived. I 
looked at her, sweat dripping from my 
brow and feeling queasy. Based on some 
gut feeling, I agreed to get in her car. All 
I could think was, I cannot give up this 
tape, there was too much hard work put 
into it, and we had come so far. 

It turned out that her "personal video- 
grapher" worked on wedding shoots. He 
was in the midst of cutting an upper-class 
wedding when we showed up. My DP 
proceeded to erase the image of her home, 
the wedding man checked our tape, and 



in less than five minutes, we were speed- 
ing away from that house as fast as we 
could. I later found out that the woman, 
the daughter of a deposed minister, was 
afraid the government would come after 
her and her family. Everyone in 
Mauritania, as it turned out, was on pins 
and needles, not knowing what to expect. 
So, in her eyes we were suspect too. 

Back home the biggest challenge I had 
yet to face was to piece together these five 
eye-opening stories into a coherent narra- 
tive that retained the distinctive voice of 
each activist. Interestingly, the moments 
we shared while the camera was off 
accentuated the commonality of our 
experiences and transformed us in ways 
that are hard to translate onto the screen. 
Most importantly, and what was not lost 
to me or our partners, was that the 
process of passing on knowledge through 
the training and the filmmaking process 
itself were as valuable in effecting change 
as getting their stories out there to a larg- 
er audience. The human connections we 
made will stay with us much beyond the 
distribution life of the film, "k 

* Faces of Change premiered at the Silver 
Docs Film Festival in June 2005. 



18 The Independent I July/August 2005 



'ROF11F 



The German Mystique 

Margarethe von Trotta is not a feminist 



By Sarah Coleman 

Margarethe von Trotta doesn't 
want to be known for "always 
making films about women, 
women, women." But when her former 
husband, the renowned German director 
Volker Schlondorff, came to her with the 
idea for her breakthrough 2003 movie 
Rosenstrasse, she couldn't resist — even 
though it was another movie that pits 
vibrant, courageous women against social 
and political forces that are hostile 
toward them. 

For one thing, the story of 
Rosenstrasse — a week-long protest held in 
1943 by Aryan women whose Jewish 
husbands were being imprisoned by the 
Nazis — had never been told. "Even in 
Berlin, the story was not known," von 
Trotta says in a phone interview from 
Munich, where the filmmaker was prepar- 
ing for her next film. Hardly anyone 
knew that intermarried Jews had been 
spared from deportation until 1943 or 
that in that year, a group of determined 
non-Jewish women massed together 
against the Nazi machine and succeeded 
in breaking Hitler's will. 

The story was undeniably strong, but 
telling it wouldn't prove easy. At the time 
when she was trying to raise funds for the 
movie, Germany was suddenly discover- 
ing its funny bone. "All the producers 
wanted to do comedies, and not very 
sophisticated ones," von Trotta says. 
When it came to the Holocaust, there was 
a feeling in Germany that "we don't want 
to hear about this time any more," she 
says. But von Trotta doggedly pursued the 
project for nine years — her own reluc- 
tance to make another female-centered 
movie melting away as she interviewed 
about a dozen survivors of the incident. 




"These people were so fond of the idea, 
and they knew my other films, so they 
trusted me," she says, adding, "I always 
need a very personal motivation to do 
something." 

That kind of careful research, along with 
an intensely personal connection to her 
subject matter, characterizes the oeuvre of 
Margarethe von Trotta. The lone woman in 
a bunch of talented directors to emerge as 
part of the New German Cinema move- 
ment in the 1970s, von Trotta has built a 
reputation as a boldly independent and — 
though she may hate the term — feminist 
filmmaker. Her best movies tell stories 
about strong women whose personal lives 
intersect with larger political forces and 
whose pluck leads them in unexpected 
directions. But these aren't one-dimension- 
al, idealized Mother Courage types. Often 
dark, always complicated, von Trotta's 
women are anything but predictable. 



Take, for example, Christa Klages, the 
heroine of her 1977 debut solo film The 
Second Awakening of Christa Klages. The 
screenplay, written by von Trotta, was 
inspired by a news story that swept 
Germany in the mid-1970s: that of Margit 
Czenki, a kindergarten teacher who 
robbed a bank to prevent her school from 
closing down. "She was treated in the 
newspapers like a criminal, but on the 
other hand I saw that she was so sympa- 
thetic, and she had such a good heart," 
says von Trotta, who then decided to visit 
Czenki in prison. The two corresponded 
until Czenki was released. Von Trotta later 
wrote a story, loosely based on Czenki's 
experience, that examines the effects of 
crime on the psyche. In Christa, she drew 
a powerful portrait of a woman whose 
good heart and fighting spirit prove to be a 
fatal combination. 

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too. True to her vision of female solidari- 
ty, the director gave Czenki a cameo in 
the movie and a job as its script supervi- 
sor. The ex-con went on to supervise 
scripts for von Trotta's next two movies 
before moving up to assistant director, 
and then directing two movies of her 
own — a rehabilitation that pleases her 
mentor immensely. 

The Second Awakening ofChrista Klages 
represented a career turning point for von 
Trotta as well. For over a decade shed 
wanted to direct movies, but in the 1960s 
and early 70s, Germany's film industry 
was in decline. Like other Germans with 
artistic aspirations, von Trotta had gone to 
Paris after she graduated from high school 
in the early 1960s. She was supposed to 
be studying French literature and art his- 
tory, but instead she was drawn to movie 
theaters. "My university was the cinema," 
she says. 

And what cinema it was: Francois 
Truffaut, Ingmar Bergman, Alfred 
Hitchcock, and Claude Chabrol were all 
at the height of their careers. The French 
New Wave was in full force, with movies 
like Truffaut's Jules and Jim and Jean-Luc 
Godard's Breathless jolting audiences out 
of their comfort zones. Von Trotta gravi- 
tated to Bergman the most, attracted by 
the Swedish director's combination of 
artistry and psychological insight. The 
first Bergman film she ever saw was The 
Seventh Seal, and she remembers how its 
opening scene, with Death and the 
Chevalier playing chess on the beach, was 
"for me, absolutely a culture shock. Very 
mystical." 

To satisfy her filmmaking lust von 
Trotta joined a student film collective, 
and then started acting. Things moved 
onto a fast track when she met Volker 
Schlondorff, who also studied in Paris in 
the 1960s. The two married, and von 
Trotta wrote the scripts for several of 
Schlondorff 's films and became his assis- 
tant director before taking the helm in 
1977 for The Second Awakening of Christa 
Klages. 

What she learned in Paris, she says, was 
that cinema could aspire to the level of 
fine art — an important lesson for the 
daughter of a painter. (Von Trotta's father, 
Alfred Roloff, was a successful, married 
artist when he met Elisabeth von Trotta, 



an aristocrat's daughter whose family had 
fled Moscow during the Russian 
Revolution.) "My mother always told me 
that she could never obey a man or be 
dependent on him, so even if my father 
hadn't been married, she would have 
stayed single," von Trotta says. Much of 
this director's empathy for women and 
her attraction to themes of female 
courage and friendship can be traced 
back to her independent-minded moth- 
er. 

The von Trotta family was poor in for- 
tune but rich in cultural appreciation. As 
a young girl, von Trotta tried to follow in 
her father's footsteps by painting, but she 
says, "I knew quickly that I had no tal- 
ent." What she had a talent for was stir- 
ring up trouble. "My mother was called 
to my school many times, and the teach- 
ers told her I was too impertinent." Her 
mother promised to reprimand von 
Trotta, and then, once home, told her to 
carry on doing what she was doing. Von 
Trotta chuckles. "She said, 'Go on. Don't 
be too shy. Assert yourself" 

A self-portrait of von Trotta in her 
feisty teenage years can be seen in 
Marianne and Julianne, her 1981 movie 
about two sisters who grapple with poli- 
tics in very different ways. The two hero- 
ines are the daughters of a clergyman 
who grow up in the repressive atmos- 
phere of the 1950s, longing to break out 
of their narrow world. The girls have 
opposite trajectories: Julianne, a fearless 
and brazen teenager, becomes a rather 
cautious reporter and pro-life activist, 
while the more timid Marianne grows 
into an uncompromising revolutionary 
who embraces violence by joining one of 
Germany's infamous terrorist groups of 
the 1970s. 

At one point in the movie, when 
Julianne visits Marianne in prison, her 
face is superimposed upon her sister's in 
the glass that separates them from each 
other — an image that, von Trotta says, 
speaks to the complexity of human 
nature. "In many of my movies, it's as 
though these two women or three 
women could always be one." She cred- 
its Hitchcock as being the finest 
exploiter of this idea, though Bergman's 
Persona is clearly also an influence. "It's 
like a splitting-up of the self — you have 



20 The Independent I July/August 2005 




Lena, Ruth, Schles, and Goldi in Rosenstrasse (courtesy of IDP Film) 



always a dark side and a light side." 

Her current project, now in production 
in Germany, is a more literal version of 
that idea. It's about a woman with multi- 
ple personalities and will star Katja 
Riemann, who won a Best Actress award 
at the Venice Film Festival lor her role in 
Rosenstrasse. The screenplay is by Peter 
Marthesheimer, who co-wrote several of 
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's most 
acclaimed movies and who died a year 
ago — "So now it becomes a sort of hom- 
age [to him]," von Trotta says. 

Psychological complexity also comes to 
the fore in one of her other signature 
movies, the 1986 biopic Rosa Luxemburg. 
Luxemburg, known as "Red Rosa," had 
become almost mythical as a revolution- 
ary Socialist of the early 1900s, and the 
question was how to turn a feminist polit- 
ical icon into a living, breathing human 
being. Von Trotta started by accessing the 
2,500 letters of Luxemburg's that 
remained, then reading them five times 
without making notes. "I thought that 
after those five times, what I remembered 
about her would be the things that inter- 
ested me, the points at which we came 
together." It turned out that what inter- 
ested her was the intersection of Rosa's 
private and public lives. "She was a 
woman who wanted it all. She wanted to 
have children, to be a revolutionary, to be 
independent but also to be loved," von 



Trotta says, noting that this was "the same 
thing that women wanted at the time 
when I made this film." 

Another of her intensely political films, 
The Promise (1995), examines the effect 
of Germany's partition and reunification 
on two lovers separated by the Berlin Wall 
(the female character is, naturally, the 
more gutsy and stronger of the two). 
When the film was released at the Berlin 
Film Festival, von Trotta took some heat 
from people who felt she didn't have the 
right to make it, having lived in Italy for 
the previous six years. Actually, she says, 
being a relative outsider enabled her to 
take on such charged subject matter. "I 
thought that after the Wall came down, it 
would be a theme that many German 
filmmakers would jump on — but in fact, 
people who were inside Germany were so 
paralyzed by this new development that 
they feared to touch it. I came from the 
outside, so I had no fear." 

Call her fearless, call her independ- 
ent — but don't call her a feminist or 
political filmmaker. "It's a ghetto — too 
restrictive," she says of the terms. She 
prefers to think of her filmmaking as a 
combination of exhaling and inhaling. 
"When I'm exhaling I'm looking outside, 
at politics and history. When I'm inhal- 
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July/August 2005 I The Independent 21 



the Documentary Doctor 



By Fernanda Rossi 

Dear Doc Doctor: 

I'm planning to make a documentary 
abroad. Am I better off bringing my 
own crew or hiring there? 

Making films outside the United States 
is sometimes clouded by the enthusiasm 
of being able to mix work and pleasure in 
an exotic remote location. But gathering 
the right crew can determine the ratio of 
vacation to work you will experience, 
because the vacation will come to a 
sudden halt as soon as the camera plug 
doesn't match the socket in the wall. 

I have found a pattern among the film- 
makers I've consulted with who choose to 
film abroad: those who speak the local 
language, have visited often, or even lived 
where they are shooting are more likely to 
hire locally; and those who only relate to 
the place in terms of their film project, 
who are in turn more likely to bring 
an entire crew without pondering any 
alternative. 

Working with a local crew has some 
great advantages. First of all, resident 
crews know the ins and outs of their geo- 
graphical markets and will be more ready 
to deal with the everyday challenges. In 
terms of the budget, you not only save on 




traveling and accommodations expenses 
for a crew you would bring from the 
States, but local crew wages abroad are 
often within an independent filmmaker's 
range (with the exception of Europe and 
Japan, of course), which allows you to be 
more generous with them. 

And if you can stay for the edit, all the 
better — nothing can make up for an edi- 
tor with full command of a language and 
the subtleties of communication within a 
culture. Finally, many governments have 
financial incentives for those hiring local 
key personnel. 

However, if you and your producer are 
joined at the hip or you have a longstand- 
ing relationship with your DP, the 
thought of starting anew with a stranger 
whom you may not work with again may 



seem completely unacceptable. Other 
times it's just not possible for whatever 
reason — maybe because your film needs 
to be shot in several different countries. 
But there are more than just production, 
financial, or practical reasons for encour- 
aging at least a combined crew. 

In the words of anthropologist and 
filmmaker Pegi Vail, who shot her film in 
numerous countries and was recently the 
curator of First Nations\First Features: A 
World Showcase of Indigenous Film and 
Media at the MoMA in New York: "We 
should also consider the relationship of 
the filmmaker to the communities within 
which they film, long after production 
has wrapped. Supporting filmmakers in 
developing nations with funds or produc- 
tion training to tell their own stories or to 
better position themselves for working 
with visiting producers can only enhance 
the experience of making a film abroad." 
So when you get on the plane back home, 
you didn't just take something, you also 
left something valuable behind. 

Dear Doc Doctor: 

My film is shot completely abroad and 
on a foreign issue. Does that make it a 



22 The Independent I July/August 2005 



foreign film even though I'm American? 
And how might that affect my fixture 
grant and festival applications? 

In this ever shrinking global village of 
growing film budgets, country borders 
may be getting harder to determine, but 
they are never forgotten. Because as your 
question implied, qualifying for the 
"world cinema" slot can have significant 
and positive impact on the distribution 
of your film — it may also make it ineligi- 
ble for certain domestic grants. 

Grants, festivals, and everybody in the 
film business for that matter, abide by 
some flexible guidelines to determine 
what's foreign and what's American. 
Content is not the main one. Milton 
Tabbot, managing director of the docu- 
mentary funding programs and screening 
series of the IFP says, "The Radziwill 
Documentary Fund is a development 
grant, so the only criteria in terms of 
qualifying as an American project is that 
the producer, director and/or production 
company be American or a legal 
American resident." 

Things change, though, when other 
monies come into play. Milton contin- 



ues, "The IFP Market, which for docu- 
mentaries is also limited to American 
films, accepts shorts, works-in-progress, 
and completed films. In that case, we also 
take into account the percentage of 
domestic and foreign financing to deter- 
mine whether they qualify as an 
American production." 

Conversely, you can decide based on 
the above if you qualify for those grants 
and festivals that do have a "world cine- 
ma" slot or program. But don't be too 
hasty — if you are not a fully foreign pro- 
duction, there is no point in forcing the 
issue. For that matter the / (slash) has 
been created: US/Mexico, US/France, 
US/Indonesia. Co-productions are often 
a more accurate description and one that 
you should definitely try to explore if you 
worked abroad on an international issue. 

A true co-production opens many 
possibilities and opportunities, with 
grants and festivals more willing to 
accommodate a solid co-production than 
a project with no clear boundaries. So, 
rather than sweating on which side of the 
border you should stand, become 
an ambassador, and strengthen those 
international relationships, it 




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July/August 2005 I The Independent 23 



FIRST PERSON 



In a Galaxy Far, Far 




A festival in the world's most remote capital city 

By Richard Sowada, founder & director, Revelation Film Festival, Perth, Australia 



As I start writing this, I've just 
ejected from my VCR the 349 th 
entry for this year's Revelation 
Perth International Film Festival 
and... well... it looks like I picked the 
wrong week to quit smoking. 

I love programming the event. It's 
always fascinating to see how distance 
and borders melt under the influence of 
common themes. It's a powerful thing, 
and this year it's more noticeable than 
before. 

There's no question that there's a dark 
streak running through the creative heart 
of the international independent sec- 
tor — I've had this very conversation with 
a number of festival directors and cura- 
tors many times lately. I like it though — 
there's a very real and deeply critical 
approach and a palpable sense of a per- 
sonal quest. There's something very 
human and certainly political about the 
strong works at the moment, and for an 
event like Rev, that's something we've 



always been connected to. 

For me, Rev has been an intense jour- 
ney. I'm not sure about other film festi- 
vals, but Rev is a work in progress. Eight 
years of Rev as Rev and a previous six 
years of working with a host of curated 
bar and club projects and cinema con- 
cepts as a distillation of the idea, intro- 
duced me to a world of film collectors, 
filmmakers, forbidden cinema and the 
wonderful world of microcinema — all 
bubbling just below the surface of main- 
stream cinema. 

Although we made a serious move into 
cinemas in our third year, the microcine- 
ma is still at Rev's philosophical heart. 
Microcinema is where it's at and really 
where I see a revolutionary movement 
happening. It's real DIY exhibition and 
distribution with the added punch of a 
"total" experience. It embraces both artis- 
tic and commercial imperatives and is 
driven by single-minded motivation. 

Rev's philosophy and approach is sim- 



ple, and the background of the event is 
found in smoke-filled noisy bars and ven- 
ues well outside of established film cir- 
cuits and more accustomed to wild rock 
than celluloid. 

As a part-time archivist with a decent 
collection of strange 16mm educational 
films, I believe a real film experience 
requires that old Bell and Howell 
whirring in the background, a small 
room packed with 60 people hungry for 
something new, booze, a great rock PA 
sound, pool balls cracking together some- 
where in the distance, the occasional 
wafting of pot through the room, the 
sleazy house band cranking up in the 
corner between films, rare (and I mean 
rare) films from private collections and 
treasure-filled archives, and the spinning 
of my favorite records throughout 
an evening's entertainment. In this 
environment there's no distributors, no 
buy-'em-up and get-'em-out commercial 
exhibition dynamics — just fans on every 



24 The Independent I July/August 2005 



front. It's honest and raw, and it draws 
directly from the rich carny tradition of 
the great independent "roadshow" pio- 
neers that have populated the darker cor- 
ners of exhibition and distribution since 
film's earliest days. 

There's a show, but also something 
deeper. There's an immediate connection 
with history — not only in being part of 
this "outlaw" fraternity of hit and run 
exhibitionists, but from handling great 
and often rare pieces of history. 
Audiences stand right next to you, watch 
with great interest, chat about movies as 
you thread the projector and make shad- 
ow rabbit heads on the screen while the 
end of the film flicks through. Hit the 
switch and the audience is delivered 
works made by Burroughs or Maysles or 
Meyer or Marker or Conner — often with 
prints five decades old. There's a direct 
connection to the tradition and a feeling 
of unpredictable discovery. 

There's also a great tactile quality when 
working with films in such a direct way. 
Since Rev's inception eight years ago, 
16mm film has all but gone the way of 8- 
track tapes. It's a real shame, especially 
when working with the older films that 
each has its own quality and character. 
They run through the projector different- 
ly each time — some are real thick, some 
brittle, some you have to really ride the 
sound, some stink with age and some 
have lost all their color. That's one of the 
great things, too: The film never stops 
changing, and all these qualities force you 
to pay attention to it from the moment 
you take it out of the can. You're forced to 
examine the physical and visual quality of 
the film itself. You've got to focus on its 
character, and once beyond the simple 
mechanics there's history flashing at 24 
frames per second. Perhaps these deeper 
intricacies are not picked up on by the 
audience as strongly as by the curator, but 
I think the audience can sense the per- 
sonality and respond actively to the 
archeological effort. 

I take a great deal of inspiration from 
the "roadshow" pioneers and their under- 
standing of psychology, love of every- 
thing about the industry, and total (dare 
I say obsessive) dedication to reaching 
audiences with the new and often the 



taboo. And if nothing else, like my carny 
kin, I learned how to make a poster glue 
so strong (brown flour and a dash of 
caustic soda is the key) that there are still 
posters on the street that I'm sure will 
outlast me. 

Since its exclusively 16mm microcine- 
ma foundations in the basement back 
room of a Perth jazz club eight years ago, 
Rev has grown to embrace all film and 
digital formats and screens now at five 
cinema and bar venues across town over 
10 days to audiences totalling 10,000 
annually. Our audiences continue to 
grow in an unforgiving exhibition envi- 
ronment and for 2005 we have intro- 
duced a screen conference focused on cre- 
ative imperatives rather than commercial 
outcomes. For Australia, this is a major 
shift and one that receives considerable 
resistance in a disturbingly market-driven 
economy. There is no question Rev's 
approach is purist, but in an environ- 
ment of creative compromise, this hard- 
nosed approach has served us well. 

Australia, though, is not an easy place 
for screen culture, and if Australia isn't 
easy, Perth can be like carving granite 
with a screwdriver — especially when 
you're talking creativity over business. 
Perth is the world's most remote capital 
city. Isolated by two days drive to the 
nearest capital city there's a regular mur- 
mur amongst "middle Perth" as to the 
"evils of the East" (coast that is), and as a 
result Perth has developed a very protec- 
tive, conservative community (we have a 
local film censorship act that can override 
that of the national censor to protect the 
delicate sensibilities of a family-oriented 
city). In addition, a national exhibition 
environment dominated by distribution 
interests that are directly at odds with 
independent screen culture makes for an 
interesting ride. 

For Rev, these industry and social 
dynamics are a potent mix, one that the 
event seeks to shake. Toward this end, I 
tend to take a Columbo approach — you 
know, the bumbling detective — where 
the outward approach seems oddly ran- 
dom and perhaps slightly erratic, albeit 
strangely likable. Here, the event does its 
own thing. But underlying the exterior, 
analyzing the patterns of the industry 




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from its early days is more than a part- 
time hobby for me. Without the signifi- 
cant resources available to the more 
established screen events, this is Rev's pri- 
mary weapon. It's one I think allows it to 
grow and one that allows the event to 
more than just respond to developments, 
but be an active part of them. It enables 
Rev to read the works and sector and 
connects it to a much deeper industry 
context. The great works, the great 
advances, the great styles, and the great 
movements are born from looking deeply 
and applying or rejecting established 
intellectual principles. I like to think this 
is what Rev does in its business structure, 
and it's certainly what it actively does in 
its programming. 

Moving beyond a simple point of exhi- 
bition and into this deeper territory is 
both the challenge and the strength of the 
festival. Where most film festivals seem 
to be increasingly dominated by distribu- 
tors as launch pads for films (sometimes 
only days after fest screenings), Rev res- 
olutely seeks to maintain its autonomy 
from this sector and as a result rarely 
screens works that are immediately recog- 
nizable to audiences — that is, films with 
secured distribution. For other events, I 
feel that while the distribution orienta- 
tion may provide strong box office, it 
dilutes the event philosophy and contin- 
ues to feed the status quo. For the audi- 
ence, where is the discovery? The work is 
already discovered by the wider market- 
place populated by business people and 
filtered through the "market vibe." 

I don't mind saying that I find the 
world of distribution (in Australia at 
least) enormously frustrating. With a 
couple of notable exceptions and much 
like TV, it's a backward-looking sector 
that tends to base its selections on past 
successes rather than the integrity of 
good new work. It waits for market affir- 
mation rather than trust inherent quality. 
Rev attempts to deliberately spin this 
relationship around so as to work both 
within and without the established distri- 
bution and exhibition framework. It 
quite simply doesn't need (or want) the 
business of the business. It wants some- 
thing more, and so do audiences. Our 
aim is to give it to them. And to eat lots 
of popcorn along the way. ~k 



26 The Independent I July/August 2005 




By Rebecca Carroll 



BAI LING 



I am somewhat embarrassed to say 
that I did not know exactly why I 
was to meet the actress Bai Ling at 
Playboy Enterprise headquarters to con- 
duct our interview for this issue. 
Although somewhat less embarrassed to 
say that neither did I know she was in the 
final Star Wars installment, which opened 
in May amid shameless commercial pro- 
motion. I knew only that Bai Ling was in 
a small, quiet film called The Beautiful 
Country, which had just had its world 
premiere at theTribeca Film Festival, and 
that this was, in part, the reason I wanted 
to interview her for The Independent. 

I very quickly learned the reason we 
were at Playboy — Bai Ling had recently 
shot the cover for the magazine's June 
issue, and was, it appeared, happily oblig- 
ing the part of Playboy covergirl with a 
shorter than short miniskirt and a loose- 
fitting jacket that scarcely covered her 
slight, bare chest underneath. She 
donned shiny, knee-length white boots, 
glittery eye shadow, and a neon lavender 
wig. Her diminutive face broadened with 
a wide smile as we shook hands, and she 
could not have been more gracious from 
beginning to end of our interview. 

Since her appearance in the controver- 
sial 1997 film Red Corner, starring 
Richard Gere, Bai Ling has landed roles 
in a diverse collection of mainstream and 
independent fare — from Bertha Bay-Sa 
Pan's Face (2002) to Spike Lee's She Hate 
Me (2004) to Kerry Conran's flashy digi- 
tal, green-screen send-up, Sky Captain 
and the World of Tomorrow (2004). 

In The Beautiful Country, directed by 
Norwegian filmmaker Hans Petter 
Moland, Ling plays a character named 




Bai Ling in Hollywood, 2004 (Jeff Vespa/Wirelmage com) 



Ling — Terrence Malick, a producer on 
the film, created the part for her — a fel- 
low refugee in the Malaysian jail where 
the film's protagonist, Binh (played with 
soft and endearing angst by Damien 
Nguyen), ends up on his way to America, 
where he hopes to find his father. 



Rebecca Carroll: The Beautiful 
Country is so gorgeously shot. It's a 
very quiet and gentle film, although I 
was struck by the boldness of your 
character, Ling. She has some sharp 
edges, too. How did you feel about her? 

Bai Ling: Actually that character, and 



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Bai Ling as Ling in The Beautiful Country (Roland Neveu/Sony Pictures Classics) 



basically the entire film was a gift to me. 
When I first came to the states, Terrence 
Malick cast me for a play that was adapt- 
ed from a Japanese movie, which never 
ended up happening. I remember first 
time I auditioned, I just learned English 
then — and Terrence Malick took me to 
another room and said: "Bai Ling, what- 
ever you do, you're just so truthful, we 
have to believe you." And then he said, 
"Do not ever watch TV." I remember 
that's what he told me. I say OK. So we 
became friends, and later he said, "I'm 
writing something. I may have some- 
thing for you." It was The Beautiful 
Country — he wrote a role for me, a char- 
acter called Ling. So I feel like it's all a 
gift. Sometimes I feel like he's the passen- 
ger sent from God or nature. 

RC: How was it that you were in the 
states? 

BL: I was invited by NYU Film School 
because I had already done some feature 
films in China — like leading roles. I was 
kind of getting bored because I could get 
all the leading roles I wanted there, but I 
wanted to see the world. And I always 
wanted to learn English. Actually, when I 
came to this country I was not necessari- 



ly sure I was going to be an actress 
because it's so difficult, and I didn't even 
know English. I basically just jumped in. 

RC: Did you know who Terrence 
Malick was? 

BL: No. I had no clue. I had seen Days 
of Heaven and Badlands, but I had no 
idea how important he was. When we 
met, he was like, "Stay away from 
Hollywood!" He is a man who believes in 
art and is a very gentle, simple human 
being. 

RC: Tell me about your experience 
working in both mainstream and inde- 
pendent films in America — do you 
have a preference? 

BL: I appreciate both, because a 
Hollywood film for me is like a fantasy 
world — as an actress or a filmmaker, you 
have to experience that kind of fantasy 
and the long history of that dream world. 
Sometimes [when I'm on a studio film] I 
feel like a princess. What I like about 
independent films is that they basically 
keep you down to earth, because you 
know that a lot of people have devoted 
their life to this one film, not for money 
but for the art itself. 



28 The Independent I July/August 2005 



RC: So you don't think you have to 
do one or the other. Will you always do 
both do you think? 

BL: I think not only both, but films in 
between independent and blockbuster. 
I've been lucky enough to do dramas and 
fiction and comedy — all kinds of things. I 
just finished a Hong Kong movie, my first 
one, called Dumplings. We worked so 
hard, I don't sleep for three days — we 
shoot in hot, hot, and hard conditions. 
But you know something I learned [is 
that] when you give freely you receive so 
much, so many gifts. Like that movie, just 
alone, won me four most important Asian 
acting awards. It's already out in Asia, and 
will be released by Lion's Gate here. 

RC: You mentioned the history of 
the genre and the fantasy world it cre- 
ates. That history, and our relation- 
ship with movies and movie stars in 
America are very specific to this coun- 
try. What does it feel like to step into 
this world and become a young, hot 
star sort of overnight? 

BL: I feel fortunate here. I think 
everyone in the world have their own 
mission, and own duty, and own gift 
that's special about them. So I'm lucky 
to find my gift and give the most of 
who I am through my film — for people 
to feel, to learn, and to love through all 
my characters. I often find myself in a 
controversial place — like being on the 
cover of Playboy [June issue]. It's 
beyond my wildest dreams. I'm from a 
Communist country. A Chinese girl 
comes to America and poses in Playboy*. 
At first I say no, because in China 
everything related to sex is dirty. First 
time someone say to me, "Oh, youre 
sexy," I was so offended. Now I take it 
as a compliment. It's beautiful to be 
sexy — it's good. 

RC: Did you feel that way in Spike 
Lee's She Hate Me, in which you play 
a lesbian sex bomb. What was that 
experience like? 

BL: Spike Lee is extremely sensitive, 
like he doesn't tell us anything, but we 
know he's watching. One time I had this 
idea I want to talk to him about. And I 
was afraid of talking to him, but I said, 



"Spike, I have some idea, can I share 
with you?" He said, "Shoot." So I told 
him the idea and he said, "Do it." I feel 
like he is the kind of filmmaker who is 
open to good artistic ideas. 

RC: Your character in Beautiful 
Country is also highly sexed. 

BL: After Playboy, I'm so much more 
comfortable. When we were first shoot- 
ing the photo editor said, "We like your 
face, you're sexy, beautiful, but we don't 
know about your body, can we take a 
look?" I give a quick flash, and he said, 
"Oh you're beautiful." After two days, 
I'm running around naked. 

RC: You live both in the States and 
China? 

BL: I'm always traveling. I live in 
hotel rooms. This month I'm talking 
about Star Wars, I'm talking about 
Beautiful Country, and I'm talking about 
Playboy. And sometimes I say, "Where 
am I?" 

RC: How does it feel different to 
promote a film like Star Wars and a 
film like Beautiful Country*. 

BL: Beautiful Country is so serious but 
beautiful — people like it when they see 
it, but it needs somebody to bring some 
attention to it, and I think I'm serving 
that purpose. I'm glad, because it's art 
and I want people to see art. Sometimes 
in show business [and more mainstream 
fare], whether I like it or not, I'm sort of 
the one to play the sexy role [during 
promotional junkets] — that's part of the 
job for me. 

RC: So you approach acting as a 
job? 

BL: No, I'm not acting. In all my 
films, I'm living in that moment, there's 
no acting involved. For me, if I'm eat- 
ing, I'm eating — it's that simple. People 
don't know how simple it is. If I say I 
love you, I say I love you, there's noth- 
ing else involved. But you have to be 
truthful because the camera is like a 
mirror — it doesn't judge you, but what- 
ever you give to it is captured. 

RC: But what if you don't love the 



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Damien Nguyen as Binh and Bai Ling in The Beautiful Country 
(Roland Neveu/Sony Pictures Classics) 



person whom you are telling you 
love — how do you suddenly love that 
person for a scene? Or you're eating 
and you're not hungry? 

BL: I just feel I'm hungry and I need 
to eat whatever it is. 

RC: That's acting though. 

BL: That's not acting. That's how you 
call it, but for me if I'm drinking the 
coffee, I'm literally drinking the coffee. 
I'm not trying anything — audiences can 
see when you're trying. 

RC: So is that instinct? 

BL: You can't analyze it. Real life is 
real. I think actors take care of the emo- 
tional journey of a character, and emo- 
tions are like a wild river — no bound- 
aries, and suddenly, you're sad, you're 
happy, there's a storm, the waters go up 
and down. It's a joy to feel that surprise 
of vulnerability. When a director says, 
"Are you ready?" I say, "I'm ready." I'm 
ready to be on set but I don't tell him I 
don't know what I'm going to do when I 
get there. I just go for it. I don't think 
about it. 

RC: Your character in Beautiful 
Country is very willful, she chases a 
dream — how does her experience 
relate to your own? 

BL: It makes me realize what dreams 



are supposed to be and what dreams are 
real and where you find them. Maybe 
your dream is right next door to you or 
in your house with you and you don't 
have to go anywhere to find it. But 
people don't know, and so they take 
extra effort to find their dream. 

RC: What is your dream? 

BL: My dream is to appreciate every 
day — to smile and enjoy every day. For 
me life only exists in this moment. 
When I finish a film, that part of me is 
gone. And the future, I don't know, it 
doesn't belong to me. I don't know 
what's going to happen. I don't even 
have hope. I don't have plan. 

RC: You don't have hope? 

BL: I mean I don't hope for anything. 
I want the surprise and the gift to 
unfold, and that excites me. We all just 
have to firmly stand on our own jour- 
ney, trust it, and go for it. And in the 
meantime, don't forget to enjoy the 
landscape. If there's a motel, I come in. 
If people dance, I dance. If there's beer, I 
drink beer. If I want to pee and there's 
no bathroom, I pee on the pavement. It 
is the journey of life, and it all exists in 
the moment. I love the work I do. It 
connects me to the world — and lets me 
feel I give something real. ~fc 



30 The Independent I July/August 2005 



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The African Film Festival at Eyebeam 



By Douglas Singleton 

The New York African Film Festival 
(NYAFF) in collaboration with the 
Eyebeam Panorama screening 
series presented "The Hair of the Matter" 
in May. The night consisted of a screening 
of filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu's films, a 
video installation by Ingrid Mwangi, and 
a live installation performance of on-site 
African hair braiding with musical 
accompaniment by DJ Rich Medina. The 
films, installations and music combined 
to create an environment exploring styles, 
cultures, and issues pertinent to the 
African Diaspora. 

In its twelfth year, the NYAFF show- 
cases films from many African countries 
whose national cinemas are largely 
unknown to US audiences. This year's fes- 
tival included a program drawing from 
the wealth of filmmaking looking to the 
rich tradition of African storytelling. It 
also featured Senegalese "Father of 
African cinema" Ousmane Sembene's crit- 
ically acclaimed Moolaade, as well as a 
short documentary, Making of Moolaade, 
which the acclaimed director introduced. 

Eyebeam's Panorama series provides a 
venue for international work innovative 
in form and content. "Hair of the Matter" 



(HOTM) was programmed by Mahen 
Bonetti and is the first of the 2005 series 
focused on Africa (additional programs by 
Isolde Brielmaier and Tumelo Mosaka run 
later this year). HOTM resulted from 
NYAFF programmers' belief that the 
work of African digital artists had been 
shown at various venues but never togeth- 
er in such a way as to make apparent the- 
matic connections between them and 
rarely venturing into the realm of experi- 
mental video and video art. The program- 
mers assert, "...the discourse around dig- 
ital technology in the mainstream film 
world seldom gets beyond common-place 
ideas about its portability and economy 
compared to celluloid film." In contrast, 
HOTM was curated to "raise such issues 
as the effect of digital communication 
technologies in creating and shaping an 
African Diaspora consciousness, showing 
how race and color are represented 
through digital technologies, the interplay 
between traditional and digital materials 
in African art, and exploring how ritual, 
rhythm, and oral traditions are trans- 
formed in the digital realm." 

An artist of Kenyan origin residing in 
Germany, Ingrid Mwangi explores her 
biracial, multicultural heritage through 



her videos, installations, performances, 
and photo works. Her video installation 
at HOTM consisted of two video screens 
running footage of a Negro woman and a 
Caucasian man, their backs turned to us. 
The videos display a methodical shearing 
of hair from both individual's heads, 
rhythmically in tandem. Once the 
woman's curly hair and the man's straight 
Caucasian hair have been shorn, the bald 
heads bear sculptural resemblance to one 
another. This recognition of similitude 
and cosmic brotherhood comes crashing 
down with a violent shake of the woman's 
head that restores full heads of hair to 
both individuals — only for the shearing 
process to repeat again, the video looping. 
Mwangi's video works document rooted 
patterns of behavior in hopes of exposing 
social, political, and cultural stigma. 

Andrew Dosunmu's warm, expression- 
ist short films were the night's highlight, 
suggesting an emerging talent. Nigerian 
born, Dosunmu began his career as a 
design assistant at Yves Saint Laurent. He 
worked as a creative director and photog- 
rapher before directing commercials and 
music videos, eventually progressing to 
narrative filmmaking. The first of his 
films shown was Kirk Krak! (2001), a 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 31 




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melange of 16mm black and white 
footage shot during a voodoo ritual in 
New Orleans. Mysterious, stylish individ- 
uals float across the screen with an air of 
intense spirituality. In Gitanes (2000), 
shot in Dakar on Super 8, Dosunmu 
switches to color imagery to display 
Africans traversing an empty beach: 
mothers and children, a man strumming 
a guitar while youngsters dance. The title 
is an oblique reference to the French 
Gitane cigarettes. Both films employ 
street youths Dosunmu encountered 
through his travels and whose lives he felt 
should be chronicled, if only in a small 
way. In his fashion work, Dosunmu 
has photographed famous faces like 
Erykah Badu, Harry Belafonte, and 
Jimmy Cliff, and this skill at framing dis- 
tinct, striking personalities is evident in 
his film work. The abstract, expressionis- 
tic imagery imparts an elegance, beauty, 
and spirituality to everyday life across the 
African Diaspora. 

Included was the European cut of the 
haunting music video Dosunmu filmed 
for Youssou N'dour's international hit 
"Brima," Youssou and Wyclef: Brima 
(2002), about a beloved Senegalese griot 
king. Filmed throughout the streets of 
Johannesburg and featuring Wyclef Jean 
and a spirited MC Marie Antoinette (aka 
"Free") rhapsodizing about traditional 
griot culture, the camera swoops through 
the South African countryside, slums, 
and nightclubs. Many of Dosunmu's 
visual themes are evident: striking cine- 
matography with beautiful outdoor 
scenery, interiors shot with vibrant col- 
ors, folks both celebrating and brooding 
and going about their everyday lives of 
joy and pain. 

An excerpt from the acclaimed South 
African television series "Yizo Yizo 
(Episode 7)" (2004) followed. The 
Dosunmu-directed episode is shot in a 
manner reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch's 
Stranger Than Paradise with episodic 
jump cuts between disparate story lines. 
Dosunmu describes "Yizo Yizo" as a 
South African City of God — raw and 
controversial in its depiction of youths 
from small rural towns moving to 
Johannesburg in search of education and 
work — a "city of gold" — and instead 
finding a complex, dangerous metropolis. 



Unemployment, crime, first sexual 
experiences, and the complex economics 
of the drug trade are its subject matter. 
"Yizo Yizo (Episode 7)" dramatizes the 
aspirations of two girlfriends intent on 
keeping to their studies while falling prey 
to the pitfalls of boyfriends and young 
love. One of the girls trains at a boxing 
gym in hopes of improving her circum- 
stances, but when gangsters descend 
upon the gym demanding kickbacks 
from the owners, trouble is imminent. 
The episode concludes with the girls at a 
weekend hip-hop party. Dosunmu loves 
shooting scenes of spirited, picturesque 
dancing, often with sweaty bodies and 
low light in tight spaces. Featuring a 
number of South African dialects as well 
as English, and considerably popular 
across the African continent, its young 
actors celebrities, "Yizo Yizo" received an 
honorable mention at the Venice Film 
Festival. 

The final screening was Hot Irons 
(2000), Dosunmu's FESPACO award- 
winning documentary about the fascinat- 
ing world of African-American hair 
braiding salons and the heated hair 
designing competitions these spawn. Set 
in Detroit, self-proclaimed "hair capital 
of the world," Hot Irons explores an 
underground culture similar to tattooing 
or ballroom dancing subcultures. 
Economic decline brought on by the 
downsizing of the auto industry left 
many of Detroit's men without jobs who 
subsequently turned to hair dressing not 
only as a source of income but of 
renewed African-American cultural 
pride. It is an arena in which artistry 
rooted in African hair sculpturing has 
developed into a cultural phenomenon, 
its genesis the "hair relaxing" of the 60s 
Motown era. 

Enthusiasts claim the African 
American hair dressing business as a 
billion-dollar industry, with epicenters 
not only in big cities like Detroit and 
Chicago but also in towns all over the 
south. Hot Irons shows a culture with its 
own magazines, radio tie-ins, juried com- 
petitions, and an economy firmly rooted 
in black traditions. Much of the hair 
work is astounding — sculptural, colorful, 
absurd, full of vibrancy and humor. The 
individuals who often spend a week's pay 



32 The Independent I July/August 2005 



to have their hair "done up" take an 
intense pride in the originality of their 
hair styles, as do the hair artists who 
conceive and execute the designs. Hot 
Irons culminates in downtown Detroit's 
"Hair Wars" competition, an annual 
event resembling not only the notorious 
"Player's Ball" competitions but haute 
couture fashion runway shows. The con- 
ceptual wonders closing the competition 
include a three-feet tall "spaceship" hairdo 
and an astounding "butterfly" design of 
such heft it is a wonder the model can 
hold up her head. These and other designs 
are discussed with the aplomb of the most 
focused conceptual artists and to a large 
degree deserve such passionate considera- 
tion. Dosunmu films this world with 
elegiac compassion, shifting between 
black and white cinematography and uti- 
lizing a musical soundtrack composed of 
Johnny Cash, Motown, Nina Simone, 
and Jessye Norman hauntingly singing 
Strauss. A love of African American cul- 
ture bleeds through the screen. 
Dosunmu's films are love paeans to 
cultures across the African Diaspora. 

"Hair of the Matter" concluded with a 
live hair braiding installation perform- 
ance by Balguissa Zoungrana and 
Mariam Simpore. Hailing from Burkina 
Faso, the two work out of a collective- 
owned shop in Harlem and have been 
braiding hair for 1 1 years. Their demon- 
stration of African braiding traditions (all 
the rage in Japan) was accompanied by 
music provided by Rich Medina, a DJ 
and producer who uses decks to create 
musical collages of global Afrobeat 
sounds. Medina injects a social agenda 
about the need for universal change into 
the musical environments he crafts. 

The "Hair of the Matter" program put 
on display a montage of styles and cul- 
tures and attempted to connect these 
social patterns as part of larger, cohesive 
world trends. While aiming to impart a 
sense of dignity to segments of the plan- 
et not always recognized as noble and 
beautiful, the work also suggests a desire 
to illuminate and confront the seemingly 
never-ending cycles of poverty, crime, 
and "otherness" these populations fall 
prey to, issues so pertinent to Africans 
everywhere. ~k 



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Juiy/August 2005 I The Independent 33 



FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 



Room for INPUT 

The annual conference is more dialogue than market 



By Niall McKay 

The International Public Television 
(INPUT) conference was hosted 
this year by Independent 
Television Service (ITVS). Held in a dif- 
ferent country (and hosted by a different 
public media outlet) each year, INPUT 
serves public television executives and 
independent producers from around the 
planet through screenings and discus- 
sions about some of the most innovative 
and controversial programming being 
done today. 

Flashmob: The Opera, from the BBC, 
featured a full-scale opera during com- 
muter hours in Paddington, Britain's 
busiest railway station, and was a particu- 
lar favorite among attendees. As was 
Danes for Bush, where two Danish come- 
dians hit the campaign trail in support of 
the reelection of President Bush. On the 
controversial side, George Gittoe's 
Soundtrack to War about what kind of 
music US troops are listening to in Iraq 
provoked fervent conversation. 

"Public Television often provides the 
kind of work that incites and excites con- 
versation," said Orlando Bagwell, Ford 
Foundation's program officer for media, 
arts and culture. "The next stage is to 
engage that conversation and bring people 
into the room that have opposing points 
of view." 

Following many shows, US delegates 
said that while they liked some of the 
international programming they would 
never be allowed to air it on US public 
TV — subject matter such as sex, religion, 
and politics often put certain works out of 
reach. Lust a film about a Dutch sex 
worker who gets paid by social services to 
give mentally and physically handicapped 




Jakob Boeskov and the mascot (inside is an 
illegal alien from Mexico) (Frederik Harsloff, 
The Danish Broadcasting Corporation) 



clients a massage with a masturbatory, so- 
called happy ending would almost certain- 
ly be rejected by US public television sta- 
tions. And it's also unlikely that members 
of Congress would take part in a game 
show and debating contest on the most 
emotive issues of day — whereas "The 
Pyramid," a show that features politicians 
debating each other in real time, with the 
audiences deciding the winner by calling 
in their votes, is very popular in Croatia. 

It could be argued that US public tele- 
vision has developed a very narrow mis- 
sion insofar as what it can present to its 
viewers [see Matt Dunne's Policy piece, 
page 54]. "Public Television in the US 
seems to be somewhat limited to docu- 
mentary and performance art," said Clare 
Duignan, director of programs for 
Ireland's public service broadcaster RTE. 



"We are of the view that if we don't 
attract a significant portion of our audi- 
ence from the younger viewers, then we 
will become irrelevant very quickly." 

Other shows worth mentioning are 
"bro'Town," a New Zealand animated 
series that pushed the limits of the polit- 
ically incorrect to comedic effect; 
"Geography of Desire," a Chilean 
drama about four 30-something women 
that makes "Desperate Housewives" 
look tame and vacuous (which, of 
course, it is); Hardwood, Hubert Davis's 
movie about his father and former 
Harlem Globetrotter Mel Davis; and a 
German feature called Pigs Will Fly, a 
film set in Berlin and San Francisco 
about domestic abuse. 

All very well and good, independent 
producers may argue, but why, apart from 
wiling away a few days watching TV, 
should they be interested in INPUT? "It's 
not a market nor a festival but it's 
something in between," said Claire 
Aguilar, director of programming for 
ITVS. "The business aspect has been kept 
out intentionally, but on the other hand 
we tried to create opportunities so that 
independent producers can talk openly to 
broadcasters." 

It's a dialogue that will help independ- 
ent producers become more aware of 
the kind of programming that broadcast- 
ers are looking for. "While it's not really 
considered the place for producers to pitch 
new ideas, it happens all the time because 
they are sitting elbow to elbow with 
broadcasters," Aguilar said. 

ITVS recently announced its new inter- 
national fund for which the organization 
is looking for pitches from international 



34 The Independent I July/August 2005 



producers on non-US topics. "In the race 
to the bottom, many US viewers interest- 
ed in international issues are being neg- 
lected," Aguilar said. "On the one hand, 
there are fewer and fewer venues for inter- 
national material. And on the other hand, 
we get a tremendous response when we 
screen a film like A Wedding In Ramallah 
on Independent Lens." Aguilar said that 
ITVS is looking for compelling stories 
from regions such as Africa, the Middle 
East, Asia, and particularly from 
Indonesia. 

Independent producers not only get the 
chance to carry out international market 
research and watch what is considered to 
be leading edge films at INPUT, but also 
to meet many of the movers and shakers 
from the international programming com- 
munity in an informal setting. 

Rudy Buttignol, creative director of 
Network Programming of TV Ontario, 
was one of the many commissioning edi- 
tors in attendance, along with Nick Fraser, 
editor of BBC's "Storyville" [see page 36]; 
Mette Hoffmann Meyer, commissioning 
editor of TV2 Denmark; Pat van Heerden, 
commissioning editor of SABC in South 
Africa; Lucas Schmidt commissioning edi- 
tor for ZDF in Germany; Debbie Lee, 
commissioning editor of SBS in Australia; 
and Alan Collins, director of the 
Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 

During one panel discussion on inter- 
national co-production, Buttingnol, 
Hoffmann Mayer, and Fraser said that 
they sometimes call each other and recom- 
mend a particular film. "It is not 'If Nick 
Fraser likes it, then I will like it,'" 
Buttignol said. "It's more 'If Nick Fraser 
likes it then I'll look at it.'" Later during 
the conference, Fraser told an audience 
that documentary director Eugene Jarecki 
{The Trials of Henry Kissinger, 2002) was 
standing in his living room when he 
pitched Fraser the idea for his latest film, 
Why We Fight, about the US Military 
Industrial Complex. So how does an inde- 
pendent producer/director get from the 
local cafe, where they're procrastinating 
writing the next proposal, to Nick Fraser's 
living room? Easy. All they need do is pro- 
duce or direct an award-winning film, it 



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Nick Fraser's 
expanding empire 



BY LISA SELIN DAVIS 

Nick Fraser's career has been a constant battle 
between "what I will and won't do for television," 
says the 57-year-old series editor of the BBC's 
international documentary showcase "Storyville." 
A kind of documentary filmmaking godfather, Fraser is able to 
fund dozens of films each year, but he's waged a war on media 
bias — whether that's what he sees as the politically-correct cul- 
ture of the BBC or the far right wing media — to make it hap- 
pen. "My views are out on a limb at the BBC because I'm pre- 
pared to tolerate freedom of expression," he says. He'll put any 
great documentary on the air, as long as it's not dogma, from 
either the left or the right. He sums it up this way: "I find that 
agitprop art I don't like." 

36 The Independent I July/August 2005 



Once a print journalist for publications like The Sunday 
Times of London and The New York Times and now a con- 
tributing editor to Harpers, Fraser's career focus has become 
solely to navigate the ideals he maintains for the print journal- 
ism world — an almost naive and hopeful vision of an empirical 
and unbiased press — and the reality of the small screen. His 
ultimate goal is to blend the two worlds as much as he can, 
unleashing the power of documentaries on as wide an audience 
as possible. 

Sitting across from me at the Hudson Hotel in New York 
recently, Fraser had breezed into town for less than 36 hours — 
just long enough to have a peek at a documentary playing at the 
Tribeca Film Festival, and to pick up a pair of dark Levis ("We 



can't get this color in London") and Banana Republic T-shirts 
for his daughter — before he jetted off to Toronto, San 
Francisco, Tokyo, and then back to Britain. And that was just 
one week. His job takes him around the globe, scouring for 
great films. 

He seemed perfectly at home in the Philippe Starck-designed 
hotel with its tufted leather admiral armchairs and chartreuse 
sheaths of plexiglass — comfortable with incongruity. Wearing 
expensive-looking tortoiseshell eyeglasses, he has a ring of silver 
hair framing his handsome face, and the costume of the con- 
summate film professional: a black blazer over lightly faded 
Levis, with shiny black dress shoes. He speaks with the accent 
of a British upper classman and has clearly never been a strug- 
gling artist himself. In fact, he's not terribly keen on talking 
about his personal past — just as he's not one to talk about his 
personal politics — or how he built the "Storyville" empire. "You 
want to know about that?" he asks doubtfully when I probe him 
for more personal details, although eventually he relents. 

Born in London to a French mother and an English father, 
Fraser was educated at Eton and Oxford. After college, he came 
to America where he worked a series of what he calls "menial 
jobs in publishing" during the late 1960s. Eventually he became 
a freelance journalist, but when he returned to England in the 
early 1970s, print jobs were scarce. "I got into documentaries 
completely by accident," he says. "I got into television by acci- 
dent. And whenever I was trying to quit working in television, 
there were never any jobs in newspapers." 

He landed a position producing opinion pieces for the 
BBC — half-hour slots in which a single person sat staring at the 
camera, speaking his or her editorial straight into the lens. 
Crude, yes, even by standards in those earlier days of television, 
but Fraser says they were a hit, 
and they kept him tethered to 
the television world. "I was 
never really sure if I liked televi- 
sion at all, but it's kind of like a 
train you get on that you can 
never get off." 

The author of four books, 
including a biography of Eva 
Peron and a book on the rise of 
neo-fascism in Europe, Fraser 
still writes, and he straddles his 
two worlds hoping that they'll 
edge closer and closer toward 
one another. "All my life I've 
written books," he says. "I think 
of myself more as a writer or as a 
print journalist, but in one of 
these moments when I was des- 
perately trying to leave televi- 
sion, I got hired by Channel 4 as 
a commissioning editor." 

"Storyville" began as a pro- 
gram called "Fine Cut," with 



only four broadcast slots a year. With 10 times as many slots 
now, and an audience of more than 250,000 for each broad- 
cast — an astounding number for a documentary show that airs 
on a relatively recently created digital channel — "Storyville" has 
become a phenomenon and a national cultural treasure in 
Britain. A third of the films are bought after they're finished, 
one third receive completion funds, and the other third get 
"Storyville" seed money to start things up. 

'"I don't have enough money' is my perpetual refrain," Fraser 
says. Still, he has enough to make a difference in the lives of 
many filmmakers, and without the BBC keeping too close a 
watch on him. "In television, if you don't cost too much, you 
have freedom," he says. It's because of this freedom that Fraser 
has transformed "Storyville," and he believes the name change 
(which came in 1997, after Mark Thompson became comptrol- 
ler of the BBC, and shook things up a bit) had something to do 
with it. "["Fine Cut"] felt arty in the wrong way, and really 
nobody understood it. They thought it had to do with butch- 
ers. They thought it had to do with some slice of beef or some- 
thing like that." 

With the name change came a new focus: story, not issue. 
Fraser wants the details laid out methodically. "What I liked 
about [the name] "Storyville" is that it seems a name that's 
entirely neutral," he says. Neutrality — where the filmmaker's 
politics are put aside in favor of his or her desire to present a 
narrative — is what Fraser seeks in a film. He wants the film- 
maker, in a way, to interfere as little as possible, and let the audi- 
ence draw its own conclusions. He searches for documentaries 
that "teach you how to look at things as much as what to say 
about things." "Storyville" is usually impartial to politics, show- 
ing films that range from Fashion Victim (2001), an exploration 




July/August 2005 I The Independent 37 




USA Airforce transport aircraft in Why We Fight (BBC) 

of the murder of Gianni Versace, to Final Solution (2003), 
about the politics of hate in India, to the AIDS documentary To 
Live Is Better Than to Die (2002), by Weijun Chen. 

Frasier decries activist filmmaking, just as he excoriates right 
wing corporate American media. "I always get the feeling that 
the right don't bother with documentaries because they own the 
channels," he says. But he would prefer Al Franken no more so 
than Rush Limbaugh. And he can go on at length about this 
activist film trend he so vehemently condemns. His near 
polemic might astonish some makers who believe that the doc- 
umentary both can and should attempt to make social change; 
Fraser couldn't disagree more. 

"I have a block about what are called 'social action docu- 
mentaries, "' he says. "On the whole I don't share the politics, 
but more deeply than that, I don't think that making docu- 
mentaries to inform people about social conditions is a very 
good idea. It's a kind of fantasy of filmmakers that it actually has 
an impact. I find there's a certain self-righteousness about the 
left-wing identity of documentary filmmakers. I feel they expect 
you to watch these things even if you don't like them: It's good 
for you to know about the Comandante, or it's good for you to 
know about grape pickers and all that." 

In addition to eschewing social activist documentaries and 
Fox TV, Fraser is not particularly enamored with what he sees as 
a long documentary dry spell in the 1980s. "It was a blank spot, 
as far as I can see," he says. There were, of course, plenty of doc- 
umentaries being produced in the 1980s and early 1990s, but 
the trend of the first-person documentary — Sherman's March 
(1986), say, or Marlon Riggs's Tongues Untied (1990) — is per- 
haps particularly distasteful to Fraser, who says he thinks of 



himself as the cinematic equivalent 
of a New Yorker editor. He wants 
desperately to believe that empiri- 
cal journalism still exists, and the 
personal journey film or the 
polemical documentary-as-social- 
tool or advocacy filmmaking, are 
antithetical to his ideas and ideals. 
As is "all the [Ken] Burns output, 
which never interested me too 
much, though I can see its quali- 
ties," he says. 

"I'm generalizing rather, but I 
don't think [1980s documentaries] 
matched the journalism of the 
New Yorker. I don't think people 
were thinking about films in that 
ambitious way." 

Listening to him, I can't help but 
think of the limitations of publica- 
tions he's listed as beacons of 
empiricism — Harper's and the New 
Yorker and The New York Times — despite the fact that I sub- 
scribe to all three. After all, the New Yorker endorsed John Kerry 
for president last year, dedicating space to several polemics 
against George Bush. The editors took sides. They took a 
stance, I told him. They temporarily forewent their objectivity. 
Fraser, though, waved this away, explaining that there are 
times when a humanitarian cause outweighs personal politics. 
For instance, Fraser helped produce a video series called "Steps 
to the Future," about AIDS in Southern Africa, co-created by a 
number of NGOs and humanitarian groups to raise awareness 
about the subject. How, I asked him, was that different from a 
social activist documentary? "It was a form of agitprop," he 
admitted. "It was a form of social enlightenment, and I didn't 
mind that at all. I saw it as a terrifying global crisis, and I 
thought that was an emergency." 

For all of the other non-emergency issues, the key to catch- 
ing Fraser's eye is to have a great story more than an important 
political agenda. For instance, he finds the documentary My 
Architect (Nathaniel Kahn, 2003) to be exemplary documentary 
filmmaking. One might say that this film, about a boy's search 
to know his dead father through his architectural legacy, is the 
descendant of those 1980s personal documentaries he finds dis- 
tasteful, but he doesn't see it that way. "It's a triumph," he says. 
"It's a brilliant piece of narrative, it tells you a lot that's interest- 
ing, and it's intensely personal at the same time." 

The dawn of "Storyville" coincided with an explosion of 
amazing documentary films like My Architect coming out of 
America, along with a technological revolution that birthed the 
newly digital Channel 4, and, of course, the name change that 
encouraged a new audience to find documentaries accessible, 



38 The Independent I July/August 2005 



find that 
agitprop art 

I don't like." 



-Nick Fraser 




McLibel follows Helen Steel and Dave Morris struggling to defend 
themselves in the longest trial in English history (Spanner Films) 



entertaining, and relevant. The films Fraser chooses for 
"Storyville" are often progeny of 1960s verite greats, descen- 
dants of Wisemans and Pennebakers and Kopples. "When I 
took this gamble [of working for "Storyville"] , it was actually 
that moment in America when people started to do really aston- 
ishing documentaries," he says. "I think you can mark it very 
easily; I think it's when Hoop Dreams arrived." 

Hoop Dreams (1994), which allowed us to observe the lives of 
two young, black men who dreamed of escaping the ghetto 
through basketball, did not, of course, have a legislative or social 
agenda attached to it. It allowed a mass audience to enter a 
world previously sealed off to them. But one might argue that it 
was very much a social issue documentary, an expose of pover- 
ty in America, and the power and lure of professional sports. 

Fraser sees Hoop Dreams as merely a success that paved the 
way for other such films. "You have this real explosion of talent 
coming from America," Fraser says. "It's a period in American 
life where documentaries have taken over from a lot of other 
forms of expression. They're really the only original form of cul- 
tural innovation of our time, and the impact is comparable to 
what happened in American journalism in the 1960s," Fraser 
says, referring to the New Journalism of Tom Wolfe and Louis 
Lapham. And if it seems he romanticizes the movement, it's 
because he was a bit too young to experience it himself, and he 
longs for such a revolution to recur. 

"The triumph of the American documentary coincides with 
the collapse of any pretense of seriousness of the American 
media," he says. "People have to find ways of expressing them- 
selves, and they can't in most of the American media; the main- 
stream is shut to them." 



Most interesting, he says, is that the current documentary 
revolution has come from a country where the arts are mini- 
mally supported by government. Although, he does concede 
that it may not be a coincidence. "Americans do have a special 
affinity for the process of making documentaries, some deep, 
compulsive empiricism that lends itself to making marvelous 
documentaries, some kind of literalism that makes them not 
want to let go of a subject until it's perfectly described." 

While more than half of "Storyville" documentaries come 
from America, Fraser aims to include the whole world in its 
scope. He's in the midst of putting together a 1 0-part series on 
democracy, which will be shown around the globe. One film 
documents elections in China — that is, school elections for the 
best student, since there are no political elections. Another 
traces the political collapse of Papua New Guinea, from colo- 
nialism to democracy to chaos and back to colonialism in 20 
years. The films will be shown in 22 countries — all over Europe 
and Asia, in America, select African countries, and, hopefully, 
on Arab television as well. 

Fraser maintains his appreciation for documentary films as 
well as their makers. He has strong opinions, yes, but in the end 
he has a reverence for both the process and the product. 
"Another reason I like documentaries is that I couldn't make 
them. I do not have the patience. I get bored after two 
days... one day," he says. "[Filmmakers] are able to sort of wall 
off the world while they recreate they're own world, and I just 
couldn't do that. I don't have the talent." 

His talent, then, lies in spotting films that can draw large 
audiences and open minds... but not necessarily change them. 
"I wouldn't presume to effect change," he says. "If you supply 
people with the means to understand their world, that's a task 
in itself." -k 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 39 




Beyond Bollywood 

The new, new Indian cinema 



BY DAVID ALM 

And there are so many stories to tell, too many, such an excess of 
intertwined lives events miracles places rumors, so dense a commin- 
gling of the improbable and mundane! 

— Salman Rushdie, Midnights Children 

Bollywood films are known the world over for their eye- 
candy dance numbers, bubblegum pop songs, and epic run 
times. They're like McDonald's: Follow the recipe, please mil- 
lions. They attract the rich, the poor, the young, the old, 
Muslims, Hindus — you name it. Usually in Hindi — the most 
common language in India, spoken by about 250 million peo- 
ple — they offer pure escapist fantasy for the masses: a sensory 
massage to rival Times Square, chock-full of beautiful people 
who never miss a step. 

But taking Bollywood to mean Indian cinema is like assum- 
ing that no one in the United States outside of Hollywood ever 
picks up a camera. With over a billion people, 22 official lan- 
guages, and hundreds of dialects, India has no singular identity. 
Yet it is commonly mistaken to have a singular cinema. 



Kaya Taran (courtesy Ajit Bhaskaran) 



India produces more films than any other country in the 
world — around 800 features a year. And most of them are not 
from Bollywood (Bombay), or even the lesser-known commer- 
cial film centers like Andhra Pradesh, the home of 
"Tollywood" — or Telugu-language cinema. Instead, most 
Indian films are non-commercial, regional fare that address 
economic, political, and social problems, and run just 90-120 
minutes. But their directors face a Sisyphean struggle to find 
distribution for their work, not to mention an audience. Add 
insurmountable language barriers, puritanical censorship laws, 
and the simple fact that until recently theaters had just four 
screening slots per day, intended for very long films, and you 
can see how Bollywood has become synonymous with Indian 
cinema. 

India's "Indies" 

"The term 'independent cinema' is not used in India," says 
Vinay Lai, a cultural historian and film scholar at UCLA. "In 



40 The Independent I July/August 2005 



rhe US, of course, it means a film that's somehow outside the 
studio system, whereas in India you don't really speak of inde- 
pendent cinema, per se." Instead, you speak of "parallel" cine- 
ma — a term coined in the 1970s for non-commercial films that 
don't fit the Bollywood paradigm. 

But the term is somewhat misleading: parallel cinema is not 
a monolithic category, and it hardly keeps pace with its com- 
mercial counterparts. Also dubbed "regional cinema," parallel 
films are typically in languages other than Hindi, such as 
Marathi, Sanskrit, or Bengali. Collectively, they reflect the India 
beyond Bollywood — or, as some have argued, the "true" India. 

"[Parallel cinema] tends to be much less jingoistic, much less 
nationalistic [than Bollywood films]," Lai says. "And I think to 
some extent they grapple with what you might call the 'ground 
realities' of India. So they're going to look at the whole array of 
social problems that the popular film might not look at, such as 
the exportation of women in small villages or the relations 
between landlords and landless laborers." Lai quickly adds that 
class issues are not entirely absent from popular Hindi cinema. 
But because independent filmmakers are often rooted in the 
Marxist and socialist traditions of post-independence India, 
they are more likely to foreground such topics than Bollywood 
directors, for whom wide, commercial appeal is paramount. 

"But I don't think that parallel cinema is necessarily better or 
more reflective of what's happening in India," Lai says. "It's 
quite clear to me that the popular cinema is able to access dif- 
ferent kinds of social worlds and do it quite adequately." 

The difference is in degree, and in the tradition a given film- 
maker — commercial or non — may be following. 

Three Traditions 

Shortly after India declared independence from Great Britain 
in 1947, three types of cinema began to emerge. Bollywood 
promptly became the preeminent Indian cinema, and its style 
was soon determined by the musical sequences, opulent set- 
tings, and high production values that still define the form 
today. And the films were always long — three hours on aver- 
age — in order to provide a full evening's entertainment for poor 
audiences. 

The second — "middle cinema" — were Hindi-language films 
that often featured Bollywood talent but were produced on 
relatively small budgets. These films targeted the same audience 
as commercial cinema, but they often broke the Bollywood 
mold and addressed social and political issues. 

Finally, there was the so-called "art cinema," the least 
commercial of the three. These films often did well at festivals 
but had trouble at the box office. Indian auteurs of the 1950s 
and 1960s like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, and Mrinal Sen are 
still cited among the likes of Godard, Bergman, Fellini, and 
Hitchcock as masters of their medium. Today, Lai suggests, the 
"middle" and "art" cinemas have merged, establishing just two 




basic categories: Bollywood and parallel cinema. But some 
Indian filmmakers, perhaps for political or even marketing pur- 
poses, still identify themselves and their work according to the 
previous three rubrics. 

Sashi Kumar, who released his debut feature, Kaya Taran, in 
Bombay and Delhi early this year, says that "middle cinema" 
still exists. "Increasingly it's called the crossover film," he says, 
"because you can keep crossing over to this side and that side, 
depending on where you are. But there are other filmmakers — 
and I like to think that I'm among them — who are in clear 
opposition to that kind of formula." 

Recent Films 

Kaya Tararis plot hinges on two religion-motivated genocides 
of the past 20 years: the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 in Delhi, which 
left about 3,000 dead, and the 2002 slaughter of 58 Hindus by 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 41 




Sashi Kumar (courtesy Ajit Bhaskaran) 



an alleged Muslim mob aboard a train in the northwest region 
of Gujarat. The latter spurred two months of retaliatory attacks 
that killed over 2,000 Muslims. 

Kumars film begins in the aftermath of Gujarat, with a 
young journalist whose research for an article about religious 
conversions takes him to a Catholic convent in Delhi. There, he 
meets a nun whom he recalls having saved him and his mother 
from anti-Sikh rioters 18 years earlier. Kaya Taran is a difficult 
film: Kumar weaves together elements of documentary, mystery, 
and personal history to create two narrative arcs that bear no 
apparent relation to each other until the film is almost over. 
Instead, the director requires viewers to piece it together them- 
selves, engaging the audience in a way seldom found in com- 
mercial Indian cinema. 

"I think that cinema of this kind cannot be subject to the 
laws of universal culture or mass consumption, or be directed by 
the tastes of consumers," Kumar says. "And I think that films 
like this are influential in many ways because they get people 
talking about issues, and they give [a director] the sense of hav- 
ing made some kind of impact." 

Kumar's goal is to stop what he calls the "willful, collective 
amnesia" among people that follows such atrocities as those in 
his film. "With time, as memory gets erased, we exonerate the 
culpable," he says. 

One of India's premier broadcast journalists for 25 years, 
Kumar funded and produced Kaya Taran himself for $300,000. 
To appease censors, he had to display a disclaimer during the 
film's titles that identifies it as a work of fiction — though he 
emphatically refutes that claim in conversation. Still, he says the 
biggest hurdle was publicizing the film, a prohibitive cost for 
many independent filmmakers in India (indeed, anywhere). 

Kaya Taran ran for 10 days in Delhi and one week in 
Bombay, at multiplexes in those cities. A burgeoning phenom- 



enon across India, the multiplex provides unprecedented 
opportunities for non-commercial filmmakers to exhibit 
their work. With the addition of hundreds of new screens 
over the last five years, multiplex owners are willing to risk 
showing films that won't generate the proceeds of a 
Bollywood film. Indeed, Kumar's film attracted less than 25 
people per night during its two runs. 

The reason is simple, and a little ironic: Kaya Taran is a 
Hindi-language film, accessible to a quarter-billion people in 
India, and it screened in the country's largest two cities. But 
it failed at the box office because it was competing with the 
lighter, happier, more entertaining Bollywood fare also 
screening those nights. Meanwhile, an Assamese-language 
film from Assam, in the northeast corner of India, may have 
significant success in that region. In fact, if it became reallv 
popular, it could even be picked up by a Bombay studio and 
remade in Hindi. 

"But if you're a Hindi filmmaker, making a film on a much 
smaller scale with a much smaller budget about progressive 
social values, [your work] more or less gets drowned out," Lai 
says. "So I think those films get less of a hearing, whereas 
regional films may get more of a hearing because their audiences 
are already more attuned to that kind of cinema." 

On the other hand, Kumar says that screening a film like 
Kaya Taran in major, Hindi-speaking cities also maximizes an 
independent filmmaker's odds. "You have a bigger market, so 
you can have your film seen in many places at different times — 
and you're more likely to recoup your costs," he says. 

Shonali Bose, an Indian filmmaker now based in Los Angeles 
who premiered her debut feature, Amu, at multiplexes in India 
last January, says: "I've had young people and college students 
come up to me and say they went to my film at a multiplex 
because they couldn't get tickets to the big film they'd meant to 
see. They said they expected to walk out after 1 5 minutes, that 
[my film] didn't sounded like something they'd be interested in. 
But they just got hooked." 

Like Kaya Taran, Amu focuses on a young protagonist — in this 
case an Indian woman now living in the United States — as she 
discovers how her own past coincides with the anti-Sikh riots of 
1984. Also like Kaya Taran, Amu is part-mystery, but less difficult 
viewing than Kumar's film. "[Filmmakers like me] are taking dif- 
ferent themes, but using narrative in a way that's accessible and 
can reach a wider audience," she says. "That way it's not just an 
intellectual cinema." 

Kumar's film is not strictly intellectual, but it is more experi- 
mental in its form than Amu. And this was largely the point: "At 
heart I'm still a journalist," Kumar says. "But I'm also very frus- 
trated with journalism. While journalism can deal with facts, facts 
don't mean a thing beyond a point. If you want to give a sense of 
the truth, you have to be an artist." 

A.mu also represents another strand of contemporary Indian 
cinema. Over the past five years, increasing numbers of non-resi- 
dent Indians — or NRIs — in the United States, Canada, Australia, 



42 The Independent I July/August 2005 




Shonali Bose, an Indian filmmaker based in Los Angeles, premiered her debut feature, Amu, in India last January 
(courtesy of Jonai Productions) 



and Great Britain have begun making films that specifically 
address the challenges they face in reconciling their two cultures 
into a coherent personal identity. Such films are often set outside 
of India and feature westernized characters as they struggle with, 
or discover their Indian heritage for the first time. 

One such film, Leela (2002), tells the story of an Indian 
woman who breaks Indian customs when she leaves her hus- 
band and moves to the United States to teach at an American 
university. There, she develops a close bond with one of her 
male students, an Indian-American who is wrestling with his 
own cultural identity. "It's kind of a Graduate meets Summer of 
'42" says the film's producer, Kavita Munjal. 

Unlike Kaya Taran and Amu, Leela used Bollywood stars, but 
Munjal and the film's director, Somnath Sen, sought funding 
themselves and shot the film in just 25 days — all but one in Los 
Angeles. In form, too, Leela embodies this conflation of Indian 
and American cinema. "Leela was really a marriage of western 
forms, in terms of storytelling, using the three-act structure, 
with the Indian way of telling stories," Munjal says. "There's a 
lot of music and dance." 

The latter quality garnered the film a lot of attention in India 
during its 1 5-week run, but the former disqualified it at awards 
ceremonies. "We used a top-level Indian cast, it had songs and 



dances, and we shot in India for one day. But all of our financ- 
ing was US-based, and our production company was based in 
the US, so we were considered a foreign film," Munjal says — 
specifically, an American film. "But I think that more than 
American or Indian, I just view it as world cinema." 

Films like Leela also reflect a growing frustration with 
Bollywood's treatment of the NRI experience. "If Bollywood 
makes a film about NRIs, it's about the rich NRIs," says Bose. 
"There's no reflection of the struggles they face here, or of what's 
happening in the rest of American society. It's just glamorized." 
They also tend to reflect antiquated social customs, traditional 
family values, and conservative politics, further capitalizing on 
the nostalgia among certain NRIs for a motherland that no 
longer exists. And they altogether ignore the NRI experience in 
third-world countries like Trinidad, South Africa, and Fiji — all 
of which have large populations of Indian emigres. 

But the films and filmmakers discussed above represent a new 
Indian cinema, one that departs from such rose-colored fictions. 

"And this new kind of auteurship is not to be underestimated," 
Kumar says. "Young people all over India are taking their cameras 
and shooting their stories and expressing their concerns. And this 
is gathering as one huge oppositional form of art to the bigger, 
Bollywood narrative that has been developing lor decades." ■& 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 43 



once upon a time in 

MEXICO 




The next chapter in cinema 



BY VICTOR PAYAN 



The Mexican film community has always prided itself 
on a certain international nationalism highlighted 
by collaborations with world class cinematic maver- 
icks such as Luis Bunuel, Sam Peckinpah, and 
Alejandro Jodorowsky In recent years, film renegades such as 
John Sayles and Peter Weir have headed south of the border to 
realize their visions, and the Mexican New Wave that began in 
the early 90s with films like Maria Novaro's Danzon and 
Alfonso Arau's Like Water for Chocolate, proved that native 
talent could hold its own on the international arthouse and 
festival circuits. 

But there's a new Mexican revolution happening that started 
like a shot heard round the world with Alejandro Gonzalez 
Inarritu's 2000 debut film Amores Perros, a multiple narrative 
feature that threw audiences relentlessly into the chaotic com- 
plexity and the limitless labyrinth of the contemporary 
Mexican experience. Like their predecessors in the 1990s, the 



films of the new revolution stand firmly in a Mexican cinemat- 
ic tradition characterized in equal parts by a rebellious icono- 
clasm, a keen political awareness, an intimate examination of 
gender relations, a profound distrust of both church and state, 
a romantic populism, and last but not least, a savagely honest 
and absurdist sense of humor. And with Mexico's traditional 
censorship a thing of the past, today's directors operate with a 
degree of freedom that is changing the way we look at cinema. 

The critical and commercial success of films like Amores 
Perros and Alfonso Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien the following 
year, catapulted Mexican films onto US video shelves and 
sparked a reversal of the decade-long exodus to Hollywood of 
native talents such as directors Alfonso Arau, Guillermo del 
Toro, Luis Mandoki, and cinematographers Rodrigo Prieto and 
Emmanuel Lubezki. 

Although at the same time edgy Mexican films were earning 
accolades at international festivals and box offices, the revolu- 



44 The Independent I July/August 2005 



tion faced some serious threats. For one thing, domestic produc- 
tion during the last decade dropped significantly. According to 
figures released by the Mexican Senate in 2004, 212 films were 
made in Mexico over the last 10 years, compared to 747 in the 
previous decade. And in 2002, while Mexican director Carlos 
Carrera's El Crimen del Padre Amaro was causing an internation- 
al sensation, Mexican president Vicente Fox proposed a sell-off 
of the Mexican Film Institute IMCINE and the national film 
studio Churubusco. This looming privatization struck at the 
heart of Mexico's cinematic and cultural identity, as IMCINE is 
a repository for the masterworks of Mexico's Golden Age, and 
Churubusco is where many of them were filmed. 

Public outcry and a demonstration at the Mexican parliament 
building by the cultural community ultimately prevented the 
sell-off, but the threat succeeded in galvanizing Mexican film- 
makers' sense of purpose. With 
80 percent or Mexican movie 
screens already dominated by 
Hollywood films, they were not 
about to give up ground or open 
the door to American-style 
action films and a return to the 
shoot-em-up Mexploitation 
ficheras that proliferated during 
the 80s. 

Actress Vanessa Bauche, who 
starred as the abused wife Susana 
in Amores Perros and is one of the 
most familiar faces in Mexican 
cinema, is adamant about the 
potential of today's film gener- 
ation. She says that the lack of 

money available for production forces filmmakers in Mexico to 
become de facto auteurs. "Out of 10 films, five compete in inter- 
national competitions and two or three do well at the box office, 
and that's a very high percentage for the amount of films that are 
produced," Bauche says. 

As to what qualities Mexican filmmakers have to contribute to 
the international independent film community, Bauche is very 
positive. "I think the grasp, the guts, the heart,'' she says. "[There 
are] films that are made with all the resources, but that don't have 
this spirit, which is one of struggle, of will, of survival." 

Bauche's own current projects highlight the diversity of 
today's Mexican film community. She is starring in Gustavo 
Loza's contemporary emigration film Al otro lado (not to be 
confused with Natalia Almada's 2005 documentary with the 
same name), Felipe Cazals's period piece Las vueltas de citrillo, 
and Tommy Lee Jones's directorial debut The Three Burials of 
Melquiades Estrada. Written by Amores Perros screenwriter 
Guillermo Arriaga, Three Burials won the Best Screenplay award 
for Arriaga and Best Actor award for Tommy Lee Jones at 
Cannes in May. 

Multitalented filmmaker Sergio Arau, director of the smart 



Omar and Andres are filmmakers in Baja (courtesy AMCI) 



mockumentary A Day without a Mexican, is one artist who left 
the capital during the slump of the 1990s. An accomplished 
cartoonist and musician, Arau grew up around the avant garde 
Mexico City film community of the 1960s, which included his 
father, actor/director Alfonso Arau and Chilean transplant 
Alejandro Jodorowsky. Early in his career, the younger Arau 
worked with each — first as assistant director on his father's 
popular 1979 comedy Mojado Power!, then as the tattoo design- 
er for Jodorowsky's 1989 cult classic Santa Sangre. 

Arau says he learned valuable lessons from this kamikaze 
community of counterculture cineastes, mimes, and street 
theater artists. "I have an obsession with seeking out original 
ways of saying things," Arau says. "I improvise a lot. You have the 
script, but the script is just a guide. Sometimes it pays off, and 
sometimes it's horrible. But that's a part of the risk." 

After studying film at the 
CUEC, Arau relocated to 
southern California in the 
1990s. It was there he pro- 
duced both his 1998 animated 
short El Muro and the short 
version of A Day without a 
Mexican with his wife, per- 
formance artist and actress 
Yareli Arizmendi. As a short, A 
Day Without a Mexican fast 
became an underground 
phenomenon, positing the sce- 
nario of what would happen to 
the California economy if all 
the Mexicans disappeared. 
Playing with documentary 
and TV news forms, this inventive short uses comedy to skewer 
the rising anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States. When 
popular demand prompted him to develop the concept into a 
feature film, Arau sought Hollywood backing. Initially, potential 
flinders asked Arau to dumb it down and make it less political. 
He wasn't interested. 

Financing was finally secured with investors from Mexico and 
Spain buying into Arau's offbeat English-language film targeted 
at the US market. The investment paid off, as the film resonat- 
ed with audiences on both sides of the border. Despite its limit- 
ed release, A Day without a Mexican surpassed the box office 
draw of many Hollywood films in Mexico, ultimately earning 
$5.9 million at the box office. In its first three months on DVD, 
the film sold more than 700,000 copies and grossed more than 
$12 million in rentals. 

Arau says his film also received a show of support from an 
unlikely source: video pirates. "They sent us many messages say- 
ing that because the film was so wonderful for our people, they 
wouldn't make bootlegs until the film ended its theatrical run," 
Arau says. "And the same thing happened in Mexico. They 
respected us." 




July/August 2005 I The Independent 45 




Cuarto Hotel (courtesy of Pedro Araneda/AMCI) 



Since the end of the film's box office run, there have been 
numerous bootlegs, which Arau regards with an admirable sense 
of humor. "I have four versions from Mexico and two from the 
US," he says. "And I have a friend who bought one in Cambodia. 
I was very honored, because it was the only Mexican movie to be 
pirated in Cambodia." 

Another filmmaker who is working outside of the capital is 
Beto Gomez, the fresh-faced director of the stylish border box- 
ing movie Punos rosas. Gomez lives in Guadalajara, the home of 
one of Mexico's pre-eminent film festivals. His film, which is set 
in the Matamoros/Brownsville border region, examines the 
often-slippery definition of Mexican masculinity on the streets 
and in prison. His latest project, a documentary on female 
Mexican singers called Hasta el ultimo trago, comzon...! features 
interviews with Lila Downs, Astrid Hadad, Chayito Valdez, and 
Chavela Vargas. 

Hailing from the northern state of Sinaloa, Gomez studied 
film in Guadalajara, Boston, and Vancouver. Returning to 
Mexico to work in television, Gomez found the Mexico City 
film community a bit elitist. As an outsider to the film establish- 
ment with no institutional connections, Gomez looked for an 
alternative route to achieving his goal. "I preferred to forget 



about all the things I was never going to have, and with the few 
tools that I (did have), to make movies." 

Gomez embarked on a trip to Spain where he said his encoun- 
ters with the film community inspired him to rethink the role of 
the filmmaker as a more communal artist. Coming home to 
Mexico, Gomez began working on his first film, ElAgujero (The 
Hole), a narrative feature about a migrant worker who returns to 
his village after many years in the United States. For his lead, 
Gomez sought out famed Mexican actor Roberto Cobo, best 
known for his role as El Jaibo in Luis Bunuel's 1950 classic Los 
Olvidados. Cobo said yes, and after a 12-day shoot, the film 
ultimately premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 1997. 

Gomez says the elitism he witnessed in the 90s has since given 
way to a more collaborative, egalitarian ethos, with filmmakers 
seeing themselves as a community of cultural creatives and fine 
artisans rather than film stars and industry big shots. "There are 
very few films made in Mexico, but there's a tremendous pas- 
sion," he says. "There are interesting stories. And despite all the 
problems in the government or with the economy, the true 
Mexican filmmaker will continue filming despite wind or flood." 

The decentralization of film production from the capital and 
the development of regional voices is exactly the kind of move- 



46 The Independent I July/August 2005 



ment that NYU graduate Pedro Araneda is working to develop. 

In 1993, Araneda founded AMCI, the Mexican Association of 
Independent Filmmakers. Today AMCI boasts over 1,100 mem- 
bers and its film school, Universidad del Cine, has campuses in 
Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara. Araneda says the com- 
bined realities of low wages and traditional lack of institutional 
support outside of Mexico City drive the inventiveness of 
Mexican filmmakers. "Since it's more difficult for us to shoot," 
Araneda says. "When we have a camera, its like the opportunity 
to enter a temple where we can create." 

AMCI helps filmmakers with production resources and has 
even produced a few projects, including a feature-length compi- 
lation of independent shorts by regional filmmakers called 
Accion en Movimiento, Toma 1. The compilation premiered at 
AMCI's first film festival, Accion en Movimiento, which took 
place earlier this year in Monterrey. 

Araneda believes that the Mexican film industry is healthy, but 
is also vulnerable in many areas. President Fox's proposed sell-off 
of IMCINE and Churubusco gave Mexican filmmakers a harsh 
wakeup call as to how precarious their film infrastructure really is. 
Araneda stresses the need to develop more public-private collab- 
orations, encourage US-Mexico co-productions, and to foster 
more Mexican producers. "There's tons of great screenwriters, 
tons of great directors, but right now, for example, the aim of 
Universidad del Cine, is to create producers, because the produc- 
er is the machine that is going to create the industry," he says. 

The job of the Mexican producer has been given a boost with 
the establishment ot FIDECINE, a federal program that provides 
up to 49 percent of a Mexican film's production cost through soft 
monies. Some recent films that have received support from 
FIDECINE include Japon (2002), Temporada de paws (2004), A 
Day without a Mexican (2004) and Gabriel Retes's fanciful festi- 
val spoof @Festivbercine.ron (2004). And earlier this year, a new 
three percent tax incentive for local production went into effect. 

Araneda recently visited the bustling border city of Tijuana to 
take part in the first annual Baja California Film, Television and 
Video Festival. The event was co-presented by the Tijuana 
Cultural Center and Fox Studios Baja, where James Cameron's 
1997 blockbuster Titanic was filmed. Since its creation as a 
self-contained state-of-the-art production facility in the mid-90s, 
Fox Studio Baja has brought a steady stream of big budget 
Hollywood films to the region, including Tomorrow Never Dies 
(1997), Pearl Harbor (2001), and Master and Commander '(2003) . 
These films utilize a significant number of Mexican industry pro- 
fessionals, most coming from Mexico City. But to get to the toll 
road that leads you to the sunny seaside studio, you must first pass 
through Tijuana. 

Tijuana, nicknamed the "City of Future," is home to 
Homeland Security showdowns and low-cost prescription med- 
ication. It is also home to the emerging Border Wave movement. 
Experimental videomaker Aaron Soto is the spokesperson for the 
group, which was informally recognized for the first time in 2004 
at the 2nd Annual Morelia International Film Festival in 
Michoacan. The festival, which celebrates international film 
while also showcasing filmmakers from Michoacan, featured a 




Pedro Araneda on set (courtesy AMCI) 



Mexican-American conference on independent film and video. 

Soto and his video short, 33 112, which was characterized by 
the festival jury as being "outside of any category," are emblemat- 
ic of the work being produced by Tijuana's young experimental 
Wild Bunch. "The cultural push of the foreigner wants to sell us 
our own image as if it were some tourist video," Soto says. "In 
Tijuana we're very aware of that. I always say that in Tijuana, we 
have the best seat in the house, because we can turn to see how 
the Americans are trying to con us, and we can turn to see how 
the Mexicans are trying to con us." 

The proximity to San Diego has also opened up a world of 
technology, equipment and assistance that had been lacking. "We 
bring it to Mexico first, through San Diego, long before it gets to 
the film schools in the capital," Soto says. "And that wasn't so 
before. And that's why I think that Tijuana is one of the cities that 
will figure prominently in the future of art and cinema. 
Something important is happening here. This is the perfect 
bridge for creating cinema between both nations." 

The future promises continued hope for Mexican cinema, with 
new works on the horizon by directors such as Jaime Humberto 
Hermosillo, Guillermo del Toro, Marisa Sistach, Maria Novaro, 
and Carlos Bolado. Amores Perros team Alejandro Gonzalez 
Inarritu and Guillermo Arriaga were at Cannes in May shopping 
around their latest project, Babel which stars Gael Garcia Bernal, 
Brad Pitt, and Cate Blanchett. 

With the term Mexican New Wave not so new anymore, it is 
time to examine the sustained efforts of a creative community to 
continue producing challenging, innovative and award-winning 
work. Hard fought gains in freedom of expression and an inter- 
national reputation built over the last 15 years have given 
Mexican filmmakers a sense of identity and purpose that main- 
tains the core values of their film heritage while adding new 
voices to the global, social, and political dialogue. Additionally, 
this community is making use of new developments in infra- 
structure, distributing, financing and technology that did not 
exist in 1992. Branching into the borderlands and already 
making incursions into the US independent film community, it 
is a movement that can make revolutionaries of us all. ik 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 47 



Foreign Film Distributors 





BY MARGARET COBLE 

In America's independent 
foreign film market, dif- 
ferent distributors have 
different things to offer, 
depending on their size, spe- 
cialty areas, experience, and 
level of commitment to the 
foreign genre. For this issue, we talked to a random sampling of 
American independent film distributors — from larger full service 
companies to newer start-ups — about their involvement with for- 
eign film and their thoughts on the temperature of the inde- 
pendent foreign market today. 

First Run Features 

Founded in 1979 by a collective of filmmakers unafraid to take 
risks with independent film, New York's First Run Features is 
known for its extensive catalog of left-leaning political, social, and 
humanitarian issue films, and from the beginning it has had a 



A roundup from 
-service to 



start-up 



strong interest in unique for- 
eign titles and emerging foreign 
filmmakers. Run by Seymour 
Wish man lor the past 20 years, 
First Run has stayed true to its 
indie roots. And despite com- 
bining its non-theatrical educa- 
tional division with Icarus Films (to form First Run/Icarus Films) 
in 1987, it remains mid-sized, employing a staff of just 20 
between the two divisions. Its theatrical reach, though, (12-15 
films per year), home (up to 50 videos/DVDs annually), and 
non-theatrical (via First Run/Icarus Films' catalog of 700 titles) is 
formidable, positioning FRF as one of the leading indie distribu- 
tors in the United States. 

In recent years, FRF has distinguished its devotion to world 
cinema through notable theatrical acquisitions — like their cur- 
rent releases Torremolinos 73, a Spanish comedy, and Le Grand 
Role, a French-Jewish comedy — and by forging several new part- 



48 The Independent I July/August 2005 




03 






nerships and launching several new international series. 

Additional acquisitions from this year's festival circuit include 
the German films Go For Zuker and Agues and His Brothers. 

''Go For Zuker is an interesting one to speak of, as it's one of the 
first, if not the first, German comedy made about Jewish culture 
and life," says FRF's Director of Business Affairs Cleo Godsey. 
"We have a strong collection of Jewish interest films and so that 
fits nicely in that collection." 

More prominently, First Run has joined forces with The 
Global Film Initiative, a New York-based, nonprofit foundation 
whose mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding 
through cinema. GFI tours 10 narrative films from the develop- 
ing world each year via leading cultural institutions in 14 US 
cities, and First Run has signed on to be the exclusive North 
American commercial distributor of these films to the home 
video, theatrical/semi-theatrical, and television markets. The 
DVD series, called the Global Lens Collection, launched in the 
first quarter of 2005 with the Brazilian film Mango Yellow and 
Algerian title Rachida. 

"These films have been overlooked by even distributors our 
size because they are challenging, artistically or content-wise," 
Godsey says of the Global Lens Collection. "They will not obvi- 
ously garner a big or even decent sized box office as a foreign 
release. So it fit with our profile to work with them. We've always 
supported foreign films that are more challenging, films that give 
some kind of look at the culture from a different angle and aren't 
just entertainment driven." 

FRF also has an alliance with Human Rights Watch, which 
launched in May 2004 with the film S21: The Khmer Rouge 
Killing Machine, to spotlight various FRF titles that deal with 



human rights issues. These include both theatrical releases and a 
DVD series that features bonus material from HRW related to 
the film's country or subject matter. FRF is also the exclusive 
home video distributor lor the DEFA (Deutsche Film 
Aktiengesellschaft) Collection, a diverse body of films from the 
state-run studio of the former German Democratic Republic 
(East Germany). And their newest collaboration is with the Asia 
Society in New York to release Chinese films theatrically, on 
home video and television. That series will launch with Electric 
Shadows, the feature debut by Chinese filmmaker Xiao Jiang. 

"In terms of business, it's a nice niche in the American mar- 
ketplace to have smart foreign films," Godsey says. "The foreign 
film market is growing in some areas, but it's still a challenge the- 
atrically and still a challenge on television. But in home video, 
and via the internet, there's been a growth. Its harder for theaters 
to have long runs of these kind ol films and hard for television to 
justify their economic model with films that no one's ever heard 
of or are subtitled. But with our first Global Lens titles to come 
out, there was a response from some of the internet buyers that 
was very strong — Amazon and Netflix. Stronger than we thought 
it would be." 

For more information, visit www.firstrunfeatures.com. 

The Cinema Guild 

The Cinema Guild, founded in 1972 by award-winning pro- 
ducers Philip and Mary-Ann Hobel (best known for the Academy 
Award-winning Tender Mercies), is regarded as one of the leading 
independent distributors of indie, foreign, and documentary 
films in the United States. Specializing in the non-theatrical/edu- 
cational market, the New York-based company has only begun 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 49 



releasing films theatrically in the past five years. "So in a sense 
we're both an old and new company," says Director of Feature 
Distribution Ryan Krivoshey, one of only six employees at The 
Cinema Guild. 

Now a full service distributor releasing theatrically, on home 
video/DVD, and television/cable/ satellite, as well as continuing 
its commitment to the non-theatrical/educational market, The 
Cinema Guild is currently taking much more interest in foreign 
films, especially narratives. Of the 900 or so titles in their non- 
theatrical catalog, Krivoshey estimates 30 to 40 percent have been 
foreign. But in terms of their recent theatrical releases, 80 to 90 
percent are foreign language. 

"A pretty big part of what we do and have done is selling doc- 
umentaries to universities, educational institutions, and libraries 
across the country," Krivoshey says. "Universities will buy films 
more on subject and content as opposed to foreign language. But 
in theatrical, it's interesting — we tend to focus more on foreign 
movies. I think maybe because the [commercial theatrical] mar- 







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Isild Le Besco and Ouassini Embarek in A Tout de Suite (courtesy Cinema Guild) 

ket has shifted away from [international films], which has opened 
up an opportunity for smaller companies to get good quality for- 
eign movies. Bigger companies are going for documentaries and 
American independents, and a lot of good foreign movies are get- 
ting overlooked now. So we try to find the gems that fall through 
the cracks." 

The Cinema Guild had a recent theatrical hit in May with the 
French film A Tout de Suite, by Benoit Jacquot, which had the 
biggest per screen average for an indie on its opening weekend. 



"It's always nice when that happens," Krivoshey says. 

Other recent/current foreign theatrical releases include the 
French-Japanese cross-cultural comedy Fear and Trembling and 
the Australian love story Oyster Farmer, while the Danish drama 
The Inheritance and Icelandic dark comedy The Seagull's Laughter 
have recently been released on DVD. 

For more information, visit www.cinemaguild.com. 

7th Art Releasing 

"The most unique feature of 7th Art Releasing is that we're 
almost fully concentrated on documentary films," states Udy 
Epstein, co-founder and principle of the five-employee, Los 
Angeles-based boutique theatrical/video distribution house and 
foreign sales company which has been around since 1994. 

Probably best known for its release of the 1997 Oscar-win- 
ning documentary The Long Way Home, 7th Art has also had its 
share of eclectic narrative fare in its catalog of more than 150 
films — from the Ben Affleck screwball comedy Glory Daze and 
erotic thriller Sister My Sister, to 
foreign art house dramas like the 
Swiss-Tunisian production Honey & 
Ashes and the Norwegian epic The 
Last Lieutenant. But the bulk of 
what they've handled in their first 
10 years has been American-made 
historical, social-issue and pop-cul- 
tural documentaries like The Nazi 
Officers Wife, The Farm: Angola, 
USA, and Word Wars. 

Though few and far between, 
Epstein says there have been a couple 
of foreign documentaries, too, but 
it's a very limited market. "When you 
think about it, most foreign docu- 
mentaries — and of course there are 
always exceptions — don't make it 
over here," he says. "Even those shot 
in foreign countries are mostly 
American productions. For example, 
Born into Brothels (Zana Briski and 
Ross Kaufman, 2004) was shot in 
India, but it's an American film — 
American producer, director, and the 
whole approach is somebody from here going there. But if you 
look at the real foreign documentaries, made by people in other 
countries and in foreign languages, they don't cross over that 
much. We do some of those, and historically have done some of 
those over the years." Examples of such include the German- 
made Havana, Mi Amor, last year's Spanish-produced festival 
favorite Balseros, as well as their current release, The Swenkas, a 
Danish production shot in South Africa that's still making the 
rounds of festivals and will have a theatrical release later this year. 



50 The Independent I July/August 2005 




7th Art offers a variety of distribution channels, including the- 
atrical, TV/cable, home video/DVD, and non-theatrical. "We 
cover the gamut," Epstein says, adding that typically, when it 
comes to the home video market, they work with third parties. 

In general, Epstein believes the demand for foreign titles in the 
US has somewhat leveled off in recent years. "From my vantage 
point, thinking about the more limited releases, I think the mar- 
ket is pretty steady," he says. "In the 1970s, there were art houses 
that were showing foreign films day and night, but there's been a 
huge decline throughout the 1990s. And now I think we've got- 
ten to some sort of a plateau. It's a small market, and there's 
always one or two bigger films that are pushed by bigger compa- 
nies, and that really see there's a chance to get some box office 
heat. But for the most part those art films — some of them good, 
some of them less so — tend to perform on a plateau. There's no 
more interest today than there was last year. But if the market is 
going to turn at one point, it's going to turn upward." 

For more information, visit www.7thart.com. 

DInsdale Releasing 

An outgrowth of the 12-year-old Chicago film publicity and 
marketing firm The Dinsdale Group, Dinsdale Releasing is the 
young, up-and-coming distribution company specializing in the- 
atrical and non-theatrical release of independent and foreign 
films, mostly in the underground/cult/horror genre. Thus far, 
Dinsdale has worked with third parties for home video/DVD dis- 
tribution (primarily MPI Home Video), and has about eight titles 
in their catalog. 

Its most high profile release has been the cult hit The Manson 
Family, a 1 5-years-in-the-making American production by direc- 



tor Jim Van Bebber that was finally completed with funds anteed 
up by British home video distributor Blue Underground, which 
then brought it back to the United States via a deal with 
MPI/Dark Sky Films. Dinsdale Releasing handled the film's art 
house theatrical run. 

Their only current foreign title, which is not foreign language 
but an Australian production, is Bad Boy Bubby by Rolf de Heer, 
a 1993 Venice Film Festival Jury Grand Prize winner which sat 
unreleased for 10 years but is finally seeing the light of day. Their 
other current theatrical release is Chaos, by American director 
David DeFalco, a horror flick that will get limited release this 
summer. 

"My company is totally open to looking at foreign films," says 
Jay Bliznick, Dinsdale's sole proprietor and one of the founders of 
the Chicago Underground Film Festival. "It's where some of the 
best art house films are coming from. We definitely have open 
acquisitions for that sort of thing. It's a huge priority, as there's a 
lot of great movies out there that are not being released correctly 
in this country." He cites as an example the Spanish cult film 
Perdita Durango, a 1 997 Mexican road movie directed by Alex de 
la Iglesia, and starring Rosie Perez and Javier Bardem, which, in 
Bliznick's opinion, suffered extensive cuts and was regretfully 
renamed Dance With The Devil for distribution in the United 
States by A-Pix Entertainment. 

"That's one of the problems with foreign film right now," 
Bliznick says. "Everybody's looking for something that they can 
cut down to an R rating because they are so afraid. I'd rather take 
a chance trying to book a really difficult movie. I want to main- 
tain the artist's sensibilities." 
For more information, visit www.dinsdalegroup.com. •& 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 51 



LEGAL 




By Fernando Ramirez, Esq. 

Distribution. The Deal. That's the 
goal of any independent producer 
after finishing production within 
budget and on schedule. Ideally, a film- 
maker would want to have the film or 
program distributed by a single company 
with a reputable track record that would 
handle distribution in every market. 
However, although major distribution 
companies deal in both the domestic and 
foreign markets, as well as all media 
(non-theatrical, television, DVD), inde- 
pendent or niche-market distributors 
usually wont handle both domestic and 
foreign markets, and sometimes even 
within specified territories they only deal 
with certain media. 

Distribution and licensing agreements 
define domestic rights as the United 
States (including its territories, posses- 
sions and military bases) and Canada, 
and they define foreign rights as the rest 
of the world or specified countries or 
regions. Categories of media rights com- 
monly granted or licensed include the- 
atrical, video, television, and ancillary 
rights, which in turn can be separated 
further (television rights include Pay TV, 
Pay Per View TV, Video On Demand, 
and Basic Cable). If a filmmaker does not 
sell all distribution rights in the film to a 
single company, either because the film- 
maker cannot or does not want to secure 
this type of deal, a filmmaker can "split" 
the rights, or in other words enter into 



Acing 

the 

Deal 



The art of negotiating 
film distribution 



more than one licensing arrangement 
according to specified countries and/or 
media. 

Filmmakers should be aware that typi- 
cally a small or niche market distributor 
working within domestic territories who 
is granted all rights (worldwide in any 
and all media) will enter into separate 
agreements with foreign subdistributors 
or "foreign sales agents" to handle licens- 
ing and sales outside of the domestic 
market, per country or region. Given the 
right set of circumstances, if filmmakers 
retain foreign rights, they can enter into 
these arrangements themselves. This 
could mean more money for the film- 
maker (assuming any "profits" are made) 
in part because the domestic market 
distributor will have to pay the subdis- 
tributor or foreign sales agent a fee or 
commission for handling the film or 
program, alter which the domestic 
distributor will keep its lee or percentage. 

Territory, media, and additional terms 
by which these rights are transferred or 
licensed are spelled out in an agreement. 
As with domestic deals, the foreign agree- 
ment usually begins with a brief descrip- 
tion of the film or program, including 
the title, genre, running time, and sub- 
jects. A filmmaker could enter into sepa- 




rate licensing deals territory by territory, 
in for example, Germany, Portugal, or 
Spain. A clause for every territory could 
read like this: " Territory: The territory 
shall consist of the World" or "Territory: 
The territory shall consist of the Universe." 
However, a foreign market clause would 
define the market by country and/or lan- 
guages spoken. For example: 

Germany, and any and all German- 
speaking territories including without 
limitations Austria, Belgium, and 
Switzerland. 

or 

Portugal and any and all Portuguese- 
speaking territories. 

Not only would this cover Portugal, 
but Brazil, Cape Verde, and even a few 
Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa 
such as Angola. Given this example, the 
filmmaker would have to do a little 
homework to determine if these addi- 
tional territories outside of Portugal may 
not be of any consequences given the tar- 
get consumer for the type of film being 
distributed. Clauses for all media could 
go on for several paragraphs (or one very 
long run-on sentence), beginning like 
this: " The worldwide [or universewidej 



52 The Independent I July/August 2005 



rights herein granted shall include any and 
all media, whether now known or hereafter 
discovered or devised, including without 
limitations . . . ." 

Although foreign licensing and distri- 
bution agreements will vary according to 
markets, the following is a review of some 
relevant terms and clauses filmmakers 
should be familiar with: 

Term: The agreement is measured in 
years as low as five to seven years, and as 
high as 25 years. Years are measured from 
the date all deliverables are submitted to 
the foreign company, not from the date 
the agreement is signed by the filmmaker 
and the company. 

Payment Obligations: A foreign dis- 
tributor or sales agent will keep 20 per- 
cent to as high as 35 percent of "net 
receipts" of "gross receipts" earned from 
the exploitation of the film or program. 
Gross receipts are monies received by the 
distributor or agent earned from various 
uses of the film. Various "deductions" are 
made before giving the filmmaker his or 
her percentage (if any money is left after 
the deductions). These deductions 
depend on the territory and media rights 
granted, but generally include laboratory 
and duplication costs, marketing and 
advertising, securing regional licenses, 
currency conversion, wire transfer and 
bank costs, shipping charges, insurance 
costs, foreign duties and taxes, translation 
and subtitle costs, and even general oper- 
ating and overhead costs. Payments to 
the filmmaker can be made via wire 
transfer, or a letter of credit payable to the 
filmmaker upon presenting it the film- 
maker's bank. 

Release Requirements: To ensure that 
the film or program does not get 
"shelved," the agreement should have a 
release or air date commitment. If there is 
to be a theatrical release throughout the 
territory it should stipulate how soon 
after the deliverables are submitted, and 
the number of cities and theaters. There 
should be a minimum advertising com- 
mitment in US dollars. These require- 
ments can apply to video/ DVD and to 
the television broadcast of a program 



with advance notification of the time and 
place of each telecast. 

Cutting/Dubbing Rights & 

Censorship Clearances: To ensure that 
the film meets local censorship laws, and 
naturally if the film is in English, distrib- 
utors will usually reserve the right to dub 
or subtitle as well as edit certain elements 
out of the film. The agreement should 
specify whether such decisions are subject 
to the filmmakers approval for creative 
purposes. Additionally, the agreement 
should stipulate that the filmmaker will 
own all dubbed and subtitled versions of 
the film. 

Deliverables: In light of the fact that 
the term of the agreement and release of 
the film or broadcast of the program is 
contingent upon delivering certain items, 
the filmmaker should clearly stipulate 
and verify what those items and require- 
ments are (format, licensing, etc.), and 
should request a signed acknowledgment 
from the company that the items have 
been submitted by a specified date. 
Additionally, filmmakers should try and 
retain possession of prints, masters, and 
any original materials such as releases and 
agreements. In the event of a dispute or 
bankruptcy, regaining possession of these 
deliverables can prove even more difficult 
in a foreign country. 

Accounting and Audit Rights: 
Filmmakers should request a detailed 
itemization of all distribution expenses 
and costs. Under most agreements, 
domestic and foreign, the filmmaker may 
be deemed to have consented to the accu- 
racy of statements unless he or she objects 
or initiates legal action within a year or 
two of receipt of each statement. 
Additionally, costs of arranging for audit- 
ing or inspection of books in another 
country can be higher, unless the distrib- 
utor has offices in the United States. The 
agreement should provide that in the 
event an audit discloses that the film- 
maker has been underpaid a certain 
amount ($1,000 or 5 percent, for exam- 
ple), the distributor is obligated to reim- 
burse the filmmakers auditing costs. 

Rights Reserved: If the filmmaker 
decides to split the rights, each agreement 



should stipulate what rights are reserved 
by the filmmaker, such as ancillary, 
subsidiary, and allied rights including 
dramatic (play), remake, sequel, prequel, 
television spin-off, radio, electronic 
publishing, licensing and merchandising, 
music publishing, soundtrack recording, 
comic books, video games, and print and 
literary publishing (such as novelizations, 
publication of screenplays and/or treat- 
ments, behind-the-scenes/making-of 
books), and any and all rights not specif- 
ically stipulated in the agreement. 

Jurisdiction: The Governing Law pro- 
vision of any agreement identifies which 
country or states law will be applied 
when interpreting and enforcing the 
agreement. US law and jurisdiction 
should govern. Some states such as 
California and New York, have estab- 
lished laws with precedence concerning 
film and media law issues, including 
international disputes. Additionally, 
agreeing to US jurisdiction will avoid 
extra expenses associated with traveling 
and hiring local counsel familiar with the 
film industry. 

Given the right set of circumstances, a 
foreign distribution or licensing deal can 
generate income for and enhance the 
career of a filmmaker in certain markets. 
Although granting partial rights to multi- 
ple distributors can increase the possibil- 
ity of generating revenues, if not man- 
aged carefully granting rights in one 
country (or several countries) could con- 
flict or violate rights granted to a distrib- 
utor or programmer in another country. 

In addition to producing a great film, 
filmmakers should research the reputa- 
tion, experience, and credits of foreign 
distributors and agents before signing. 
Without direct or backdoor access to 
programming or development executives, 
attending festivals and markets remains 
the most productive and effective way a 
for filmmaker to sell a film or program. 
All filmmakers want their films seen by 
the widest possible audience. To protect 
your interests, though, it helps to under- 
stand that the art of the distribution deal 
isn't necessarily just about art. ~k 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 53 



POLICY 




? 



No Warning, No Cry: 

Public broadcasting takes a turn for the Right 



By Matt Dunne 







ver a year ago, I wrote about how 
little-noticed changes at the 
Corporation for Public Broad- 
casting could be warning signs that the 
administration was looking to use the enti- 
ty that funds public television and radio to 
advance a political agenda. But if there ever 
were a subtlety to the CPB's actions, it's all 
but disappeared. Traditionally viewed as a 
model of political independence, CPB is 
conjuring up images of Joe McCarthy and 
George Orwell's 1984. 

The Corporation for Public 
Broadcasting is the federally chartered enti- 
ty created by Congress to provide funding 
to public media including PBS and NPR. 
The CPB is charged with helping to ensure 
that programming has "objectivity and 
balance". However, responding to fears 
that public broadcasting would become 
government propaganda machines, the 
Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 explicitly 
prohibited the CPB from using this fund- 
ing to produce, schedule, or disseminate 
programming. CPB itself is structured to 
reduce the risk of becoming an instrument 
to advance political agendas. Board mem- 
bership is based on terms, and the CPB is 
required to have balanced parry representa- 
tion. Congressional funding is made two 
years in advance to insulate allocation deci- 
sions from political whims. 

Since the Nixon era, conservatives have 
dealt with the CPB by trying to eliminate 



it. Under the Reagan administration and 
then again during the Gingrich revolution, 
axing the Corporation was a high priority. 
These efforts were thwarted only by a pow- 
erful lobbying campaign by the large and 
passionate consumers of public radio and 
television. 

Things are different now. Instead of 
trying to eliminate the CPB, this admin- 
istration wants to own it. It fits perfectly 
with other communication strategies in 
agencies ranging from the Environmental 
Protection Agency to the Department of 
Agriculture, beginning with blatant 
Madison Avenue-ization of legislation 
such as the Clear Skies Initiative. The 
Department of Education received criti- 
cism for expanding into the world of new 
media by hiring influential bloggers and 
newspaper columnists to offer positive 
spin on the controversial No Child Left 
Behind program. More recently, it has 
come to light that taxpayer dollars have 
funded high quality film and radio clips 
formatted to look exactly like newscasts 
which have been distributed to television 
and radio stations all over the country. 
Many of these pro-administration spots 
have been broadcast in their entirety, with 
no disclosure of their source. 

While some have argued that this is the 
natural extension of political spin efforts by 
whomever is in the White House, politi- 
cizing the CPB was something previously 



seen as off limits. The fear of a Soviet-style, 
government-controlled national media has 
dissuaded past administrations from overt- 
ly pursuing political ends through this 
quasi-governmental entity. Not anymore. 

Over the last year and a half, efforts have 
been made to clearly influence the content 
of public television. Unabashedly honest 
about its desire to change what appears on 
the airwaves, the Bush administration 
appointed top GOP fundraisers Cheryl 
Halpern and Gay Hart Gaines (the former 
Chairwoman of Gingrich's GOPAC) to 
the CPB board. Despite numerous inde- 
pendent studies demonstrating that PBS 
content is seen as balanced and objective 
(including a 2005 Roper Public Affairs & 
Media analysis), the new appointees were 
clear in their confirmation testimony that 
they wanted to correct the "liberal bias" of 
public television. This new conservative 
board majority gave Chairman Kenneth 
Tomlinson, a former editor-in-chief of 
Reader's Digest and a member of the 
Reagan administration, an implied man- 
date to engage in the discussion of content 
with PBS. 

Tomlinson wasted no time. "The 
Tucker Carlson Show," launched last sum- 
mer as an effort to "balance" the other 
journalism programs offered on PBS, was 
joined by a new show featuring the conser- 
vative editorial page editor of the Wall 
Street Journal Paul Gigot. Tomlinson not 



54 The Independent I July/August 2005 



only advocated for this latest offering, but 
he personally pursued the necessary corpo- 
rate sponsorship. 

Unphased by concern expressed about 
the CPB taking a role in dictating PBS 
programming, Tomlinson said in a May 
interview with "On The Media's Bob 
Garfield, "I want to make sure that when 
you have some programs that tilt left, we 
also have some programs that tilt right so 
the viewer can make up his or her own 
mind." Clearly the separation of funding 
and programming are not at all a concern 
of the chairman. 

Now comes the creepy part. According 
to a New York Times story on May 2, last 
year Tomlinson hired a consultant to 
review the content of Bill Moyers's show 
"Now," organizing Moyers's guests under 
headings such as "Anti-business," "Anti- 
Bush," and "Anti-Tom Delay" Then in 
March, he hired White House press opera- 
tive Mary Catherine Andrews to put 
together an ombudsman's office to conduct 
ongoing "bias" evaluation of the content of 
both NPR and PBS programs. 

Then, with no warning and late on a 
Friday evening in April, the CPB 
announced that its president, Kathleen 
Cox would be replaced after only 10 
months on the job. Cox had been her- 
alded as a non-polarizing leader who had 
risen through CPB ranks before assuming 
the top post. The abrupt move brought an 
uncharacteristically terse response from 
PBS President Pat Mitchell, who stated 
that she was completely surprised by the 
announcement. Beyond comments 
expressing deep regret in the press state- 
ment, Mitchell wrote that Cox "recog- 
nized the need for CPB to remain a strong 
heat shield to protect public media from 
political pressure." It doesn't take a lot of 
interpretation to read from this statement 
that without Cox in that position, the 
heat shield is gone. 

The question on everyone's mind was: 
Who would Tomlinson pick to replace 
Cox? The answer: Patricia Harrison, for- 
mer co-chairwoman of the Republican 
National Committee. 

Beyond the obviously outrageous polit- 
ical takeover of the CPB in an effort to 
drive public television content to the 
right, the frightening part is that no one is 



blushing. Tomlinson seems genuinely 
shocked to hear that anyone has a prob- 
lem with his actions. It used to be fun to 
be a conspiracy theorist, but now the con- 
spiracy is right out in the open. The cur- 
rent administration appears to see no 
problem whatsoever in eliminating the 
founding principles of the CPB, princi- 
ples that kept public television and radio 
separate from politics. 

Then there's the question of the CPB's 
funding. You would usually anticipate 
reductions for public television during a 
Republican controlled Congress and 
administration, but instead the funding 
levels have actually increased since 2000. 
Most of us in the progressive media 
community would see this as a positive 
step, unless of course the additional 
resources are simply used to finance con- 
servative, politically motivated content 
easily found on conservative cable chan- 
nels. One could even see the increase in 
funding as an important strategy in the 
effort to finish blanketing the airwaves 
with right-leaning news programs since a 
disproportionate number of PBS viewers 
are those who do not have access to cable 
and the Fox News Network. 

The administration's 2006 budget pro- 
poses to cut nearly everything non-mili- 
tary, including CPB. Yet, even this 
decision appears to be part of a broader 
political strategy. When asked about 
potential funding cuts in the "On the 
Media" interview, Tomlinson responded, 
"I just think that my course of action, in 
conjunction with common sense, will 
encourage greater support for public 
broadcasting." Read: Do it my way, PBS 
affiliates, and you won't lose your money. 

The actions at the CPB, along with the 
other strategies engaged by this adminis- 
tration, reveal an alarming pattern of 
using public resources to advance conser- 
vative ideology through the media. 
Democratic members of Congress have 
called for an investigation of abuse of the 
Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, but 
there must be clear and loud opposition 
beyond the media-watch community to 
stop this moving train. Outrage must be 
heard, and calls to action must be taken 
now before the best solution is to not have 
a CPB at all. • 



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DOMESTIC 

AFRICAN DIASPORA FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 25 - 

Dec. 11, NY. Deadline: June 30 (docs, 
shorts); Aug. 31 (features). Noncompetitive 
fest presents films that depict human experi- 
ence of people of color all over the world. 
Founded: 1993. Cats: feature, short, doc. 
Awards: Public Award for a film directed by a 
woman of color. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, 
Beta SP. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Festival; (212) 864-1760; fax: 316- 
6020; info@nyadff.org; www.nyadff.org. 

ALAMEDA INTL FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 11-13, 
CA. Deadline: Apr. 30; June 30; Aug. 30 
(final). The fest seeks narrative, documen- 
tary, & animated works (30 min. or shorter) 
completed after December 31 . Exhibition & 
preview on VHS (NTSC) & DVD. Entry fee: 
$15-$25. (510) 740-0220, ext. 114; fax 
(51 0)749-751 7; info@alamedafilmfest.com; 
www.alamedafilmfest.com. Cats: short, any 
style or genre. Preview on VHS (NTSC) & 
DVD. Entry Fee: $15 to $20. Contact 
Festival; (510) 740-0220, ext. 114; fax 
(510) 749-7517; info@alamedafilmfest.com 
www.alamedafilmfest.com. 

ANNAPOLIS FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 11-14, MD 
Deadline: June 3; June 24; July 8 (final). A 
four-day fest showcasing independent films 
& documentaries produced by local & nat'l 
filmmakers. Its mission is to "celebrate the 
capacity of independent film to move us, 
teach us & entertain us." Cats: feature, doc, 
short, animation. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP, 
DV, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 



Fee: $25-$50. Contact: Festival; (410) 263- 
2388; fax: 263-2629; info@annapolisfilmfesti 
val.com; www.annapolisfilmfestival.com. 

ASHEVILLE FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 27-30, NC 
Deadline: July 23. Cats: feature, doc, short, 
student. Formats: 35mm, DVD. Preview on 
VHS (NTSC). Entry Fee: $30; $20 (student). 
Contact: City of Asheville Parks & 
Recreation; (828) 259-5800; fax: 259-5606; 
mporter@ashevillenc.gov; www. asheville 
filmfestival.com. 

ASPEN FILMFEST, Sept 28-Oct. 2, CO 
Deadline: July 8. Founded: 1979. Cats: fea- 
ture, doc, family, children, animation. 
Awards: Non-Competitive. Formats: 16mm, 
35mm, Beta SP, U-matic, DigiBeta. Preview 
on VHS (NTSC or PAL) or DVD. Entry Fee 
$35. Contact: Laura Thielen; (970) 925-6882 
fax: 925-1967; filmfest@aspenfilm.org 
www.aspenfilm.org. 

AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL, Oct. 20-27, TX 
Deadline: June 1 5; July 1 5 (final). Fest is ded- 
icated to the writer as the heart of the cre- 
ative process of filmmaking & uncovers out- 
standing, emerging writers, fostering their 
development through panels, workshops & 
master classes conducted by professionals. 
Founded: 1994. Cats: feature, short, student, 
script. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, DigiBeta, 
Beta SP. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
$40; $50 (final). Contact: Lisa Albracht; (800) 
310-FEST/ (512) 478-4795; fax: 478-6205; 
film@austmfilmfestival.com; www.austin 
filmfestival.com. 



BARE BONES SCRIPT-2-SCREEN FILM FESTIVAL, 

October 13-16, OK. Deadline: July 15, Aug. 
31 (final). Cats: script. Formats: Screenplays 
only. Entry Fee: $30 (30 Pgs 
or less); $40 (31-59 pgs); $50 (60 pgs 
or more). Contact: Festival; (918) 391-1313; 
scnpt2screenfest@yahoo.com; www.scnpt2 
screenfilmfestival.com. 

BEARDED CHILD UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL, 

August 6-7, MN. Deadline: July 15. 
Unconventional fest seeks to bring unusual 
cinema to Northern Minnesota; "weird & 
obscure works are heavily encouraged, how- 
ever personal & experimental films also do 
well". Cross-country tour will follow the fest. 
Cats: any style or genre. Formats: 1/2", 
16mm, DVD, super 8, Mini-DV. Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: $10 per 20 mm. Contact: 
Dan Anderson; bcfilmfest@gmail.com; 
www.beardedchild.com. 

BERKELEY VIDEO & FILM FESTIVAL, Nov., CA 
Deadline: July 10. Film fest seeks work from 
independent producers completed in the 
past two years. Past entries are ineligible. 
Cats: doc, feature, short, experimental, ani- 
mation, music video, commercials/psa, stu- 
dent, youth media. Formats: super 8, 8mm, 
16mm, 35mm, 70mm, 1/2", 3/4", Beta SP, 
S-VHS, Most digital formats. Preview in VHS 
or Beta SP. Entry Fee: $30-$40. Contact: 
Festival; (510) 843-3699; fax: 843-3379; 
maketv@aol.com; www.berkeleyvideofilm 
fest.org. 

BETHEL FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 25-30, NY 
Deadline: May 31; July 15 (final). Cats: fea- 



56 The Independent I July/August 2005 



ture, doc, short, student, animation. Awards: 
Cash & In-kind prizes. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta SP, HD, DV Cam. Preview 
on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $20-$60. Contact: 
Carol Spiegel; (203) 790-4321; email 
info@bethelfilmfestival.com; www.bethelfilm 
festival.com. 

BIG APPLE FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 17-19, NY 

Deadline: June 30; Sept. 1; Sept. 15 (final). 
Fest takes place at the Anthology Film 
Archives in NYC. Festival will incl. special 
screenings, networking events, screenplay 
competition, awards ceremony & special 
guests. Founded: 2004. Cats: any style or 
genre. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, 
Mini-DV, DVCAM, DVD, 1/2". Preview 
on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $45-$60. Contact: 
Festival; info@bigapplefilmfestival.com; 
www.bigapplefilmfestival.com. 

BIG SKY DOC FILM FESTIVAL, Feb 16-22, MT 

Deadline: Sept. 1, Nov. 1 (final). Held at the 
restored Roxy Theater in downtown 
Missoula, Montana. The competitive event is 
open to non-fiction films & videos of all 
styles, genres, & lengths. Official selections 
w/ production dates prior to January 1 of 
previous yr. are eligible for entry but will 
screen out of competition. Cats: doc. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, DVD, Beta SP, Mini- 
DV, DVCam. preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: $20 (shorts); $30 (features). Contact: 
Doug Hawes-Davis; (406) 728-0753; 
bigsky@highplains.org; www.bigskyfilm 
fest.org. 

CHICAGO INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, October 6-20, 
IL. Deadline: July 25. Annual event is the old- 
est competitive int'l film fest in N. America 
spotlighting the latest work in intil & inde- 
pendent cinema by featuring both estab- 
lished intil directors & new directors. Cats: 
feature, short, doc, student. Formats: 16mm, 
35mm, 70mm, 3/4", 1/2", DigiBeta. 
Preview/Judging formats on 1/2" VHS 
(NTSC, PAL or SECAM); Film (16mm or 
35mm); or DVD (Region or 1). Entry Fee: 
$100 (feature); $80 (doc feature); $40 (short 
under 30 mm.); $50 (short 30-60 mm.); $30 
(student). Late fees: $20-$100. Contact: 
Cinema/Chicago; (312) 425-9400; fax: (312) 
425-0944; info@chicagofilmfestival.com; 
www.chicagofilmfestival.com. 



DANCE ON CAMERA FESTIVAL, Jan 4-7; 13-14, 
NY Deadline: Sept. 15. This touring fest is 
the oldest annual int'l dance film/video event 
in the world. Cats: Experimental, Feature, 
Short, doc, animation. Formats: 35mm, 
Beta SP, Mini-DV, DVD. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $35. Contact: Dance Films 
Association, Inc.; (212) 727-0764; fax: (212) 
727-0764; dfa5@earthlink.net; www.dance 
filmsassn.org. 

DENVER INT'L EXPERIMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL, 

Oct. 8-15, CO. Deadline: Sept. 1. Fest 
accepting experimental works of all lengths 
& genres produced anytime in the last 100 
years. Cats: experimental, animation, short, 
doc, feature. Formats: 16mm, super 8, DV, S- 
VHS, VHS, 1/2". Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
$10. Contact: Richard Sanchez, director; 
(720) 220-8916; DIEFilmFestival@aol.com; 
www.expenmentalfilmchannel.com. 

DETROIT DOCS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 2-6, 

Ml. Deadline: July 30; Aug. 15 (final). Annual 
fest created to showcase the best in nonac- 
tion & documentary film. Special emphasis is 
given to works w/ original & 
creative modes of storytelling. Founded: 
2002. Cats: doc, any style or genre. Preview 
on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $20; $40 (final). 
Contact: Festival; (313) 417-9784; 
mfo@detroitdocs.org; www.detroitdocs.org. 

DUMBO SHORT FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, Oct 

14-16, NY Deadline: June 1; Aug. 1 (final). 
Film & video event is part of the annual 
D.U.M.B.O. Art Under the Bridge Festival & 
is designed to showcase the work of inde- 
pendent & experimental film & videomakers 
living in NYCis five boroughs. Works must be 
30 min. or less. Founded: 1996. Cats: short, 
any style or genre. Formats: 16mm, 1/2", 
Mini-DV, DVD, Beta SP. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $15; $25 (final). Contact: 
D.U.M.B.O. Arts Center; (718) 694-0831; 
mail@dumboartscenter.org; www. dumb 
oartscenter.org. 

FORREST J ACKERMAN FILM FAN AWARDS, 

Nov. 11-13, NY. Deadline: Sept. 1. Awards 
will be handed out at a banquet during 
Astronomicon, Rochester's science fiction & 
fantasy convention in Rochester New York. 
Awards for creators of fan films. Seeking 
works by filmmakers who are fans of their 



subject matter & making their own versions 
of movies & television shows like Aliens, The 
Matrix, Indiana Jones, & the X-Men. Cats: 
feature, doc, short. Formats: 1/2", S-VHS, 
DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. Contact: 
The Rochester Fantasy Fans; Fanfilms@astro 
nomicon.info; www.astronomicon.info 

/Fanf ilmawards.html. 

FRESNO REEL PRIDE INT'L GAY & LESBIAN FILM 
FESTIVAL, Sept. 14-18, CA. Deadline: July 31. 
Founded: 1990. Cats: short, feature, doc. 
Formats: 35mm, Beta SP, DV Cam, 1/2". 
Preview on VHS (NTSC) or DVD. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Stephen Mintz, Program 
Director; (559) 360-9515; fax: 443-0700; 
Mmtzworks@aol.com; www.reelpride.com. 

HP. LOVECRAFT FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 7 9, OR 

Deadline: Aug. 1 . Purpose of fest is to "pro- 
mote the works of H. P. Lovecraft through 
cinematic adaptations by student, amateur & 
professional filmmakers." Submissions 
should deal w/ supernatural & cosmic horror. 
Founded: 1996. Cats: feature, doc, short, 
animation, music video. Awards: Best of 
show; best short; best animation; best 
feature. Formats: DV, 16mm, 35mm, S-VHS, 
DVD, Mini-DV. Preview on VHS (NTSC) 
or DVD. Entry Fee: $10. Contact: Festival; 
(503) 282-3155; mfo@hplfilmfestival.com; 
www.hplfilmfestival.com. 

HOPE & DREAMS FILM FESTIVAL, October 7-9, 
NJ. Deadline: July 28. Themes which 
emphasize issues of hope & dreams will be 
given additional consideration. First time 
directors are encourged to submit. Founded: 
1998. Cats: feature, doc, short, animation, 
any style or genre. Awards: Cash awards & 
prizes. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 3/4", S-VHS, 
Beta SP, super 8, Hi8, DV. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $40. Contact: Festival; fax: (908) 
459-4681 ; hopeanddreams@earthlink.net; 
www.hopeanddreams.com. 

LONG ISLAND GAY & LESBIAN FILM FESTIVAL, 

November 11-17, NY. Deadline: July 1; Aug. 
15 (final). Entry Fee: $15; $25 (final). 
Contact: Stephen Flynn; (631) 547-6650; fax: 
547-6651; info@liglff.org; www.liglff.org. 

MANHATTAN SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 16- 
25, NY. Deadline: June 30 (scripts); July 31. 
Once a yr. thousands of New Yorkers gather 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 57 



inside Union Square Park to watch short 
films. The fest will screen in over 30 Founded: 
1998. Cats: short, any style or genre, script. 
Formats: DigiBeta. Preview on VHS 
(NTSC/PAL). Entry Fee: $35; $25 (scripts). 
Contact: Nicholas Mason; (201) 969-8049; 
info@msfilmfest.com; www.msfilm fest.com. 

MELBOURNE INDEPENDENT FILMMAKERS 
FESTIVAL, Nov. 10-12, FL. Deadline: Aug. 4. 
Fest is aimed at promoting independent film- 
makers & local interest in independent film. 
All funds raised go to charities. Unconditional 
Love, Inc., a local HIV treatment center & 
The Yellow Umbrella which helps the victim's 
of child abuse. Cats: feature, doc, short, ani- 
mation. Preview on VHS (NTSC) & DVD. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: Terry Cronin, 
program chairman; TCRonin2@aol.com; 
www.3boysproductions.com. 

NEW HAMPSHIRE FILM EXPO, Oct 14-16, NH. 
Deadline: July 1; Aug. 1 (final). This is the 
state's largest film event, incl.: independent 
& student film screenings, tradeshow, young 
filmmaker's workshops & others. Cats: fea- 
ture, doc, short, animation, student, any 
style or genre, script. Formats: Beta SP 
DVD, Mini-DV, VHS-NTSC, 1/2". Preview on 
VHS, Mini-DV or DVD. Entry Fee: $20-$45. 
Contact: NHFX; (603) 647-NHFX (6439); 
info@nhfx.com; www.nhfx.com. 

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 23-Oct 9, 
NY. Deadline: July 16. The New York Film 
Works can originally be shot on video or film, 
but you must have a 16mm or 35mm print 
for actual fest exhibition. Founded: 1962. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, experimental, ani- 
mation, student, any style or genre. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm. Preview on VHS, DVD or 
Print. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Sara 
Bensman; (212) 875-5638; fax: 875-5636; 
festival@filmlinc.com; www.filmlinc.com. 

PALM BEACH JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL, Dec 1-11, 
FL. Deadline: March 1 (early), Aug. 20(final). 
This fest aims to "speak to the world-wide 
Jewish experience." Cats: "Jewish films," any 
style or genre. Preview on VHS. Contact: 
Jewish Arts Foundation; pbjff@kaplanjcc.org; 
palmbeachjewishfilm.org. 

PALM SPRINGS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Jan 5 16, 

CA. Deadline: Sept. 23; Oct. 14 (final). 



Founded: 1990. Cats: feature, doc. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, DigiBeta, DVcam, 
HDcam. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
$50; $75 (final). Contact: Darryl Macdonald; 
(760) 322-2930; fax: 322-4087; program 
ming@psfilmfest.org; www.psfilmfest.org. 

PITTSBURGH INT'L LESBIAN & GAY FILM 
FESTIVAL, October 14-23, PA. Deadline: July 

15. Festival has been providing Pittsburgh & 
the tri-state area w/ ten days of innovative, 
provocative, entertaining lesbian, gay, bisex- 
ual & transgendered films. Founded: 1985. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, animation, youth 
media, family. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 1/2", 
DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: PILGFF; (412) 422-6776; fax: 
same; films@pilgff.org; www.pilgff.org. 

PORTLAND INT'L SHORT SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, 

Sept. 23-24, OR. Deadline: July 15; July 
31 (final). Fest will showcase films from 
around the globe that clock in at 10 min. or 
less. Fest is open to all subject matter & pro- 
duction formats. Founded: 2002. Cats: any 
style or genre, short. Formats: DVD, 1/2", 
35mm, 16mm. Preview on VHS (NTSC). 
Entry Fee: $20; $40 (final). Contact: Zonker 
Films; info@zonkerfilms.com; www.zonker 
films.com. 

PUTNAM COUNTY INTERNATIONAL FILM AND 
VIDEO FESTIVAL, Oct. 1-2, NY Deadline: July 

16. Festival is open to Film & Video makers 
worldwide. Two days of screenings in a huge 
timber-trussed lodge, projected in XGA reso- 
lution. Fest dubs itself as a "great place to 
network with other filmmakers, visual artists 
& musicians." Fest also includes art exhibits, 
free networking/PR table and Q&A sessions 
with filmmakers. Founded: 2001. Cats: trail- 
ers, works-m-progress, feature, doc, short, 
any style or genre, music video, animation, 
experimental, student. Formats: DV, Beta SP, 
Mini-DV, DVD, Betacam, DVCAM. Preview 
on VHS. Entry Fee: $25 under 59 mm.; $35 
over 60 min.. Contact: Maryann Arrien, 
Festival Director; (845) 528-7420; 
maryann@putnamvalleyarts.com; www.put 
namvalleyarts.com 

REEL JEWS FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 7-12, NY 
Deadline: July 31. Spearheaded by MAKOR, 
fest showcases an eclectic mix of works 
from filmmakers who are Jewish or explore 



themes common to Jews. Cats: feature, 
doc, short, Work-in-progress, any style or 
genre. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Alexandra 
Siegler, Director of Film & Media; (212) 413- 
8821; fax: 413-8860; ASiegler@92y.org; 
www.makor.org. 

REELING: CHICAGO LESBIAN & GAY INT'L FILM 
FESTIVAL, Nov. 3-10, IL. Deadline: July 1; July 
15. All genres & lengths accepted. Founded: 
1981. Cats: Any style or genre, Feature, 
Experimental, Animation, Short, doc. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, DVD, 1/2", 
Mini-DV Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: $15-$25. Contact: c/o Chicago 
Filmmakers; (773) 293-1447; fax: (773) 
293-0575; reeling@chicagofilmmakers.org; 
www.chicagofilmmakers.org. 

REHOBOTH BEACH INDEPENDENT FILM 
FESTIVAL, Nov. 9-13, DE. Deadline: June 19; 
July 15 (final). Annual fest celebrates inde- 
pendent & foreign cinema in a picturesque 
coastal resort setting. No repeat entries. 
Founded: 1998. Cats: feature, doc, anima- 
tion, experimental, children, short, gay & les- 
bian, student. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP, 
DVD, 1/2". Preview on VHS (NTSC, PAL) or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $20; $25 (final). Contact: 
David Gold; (302) 645-9095; fax: 645-9460; 
sue@rehobothfilm.com; www.rehoboth 
film.com. 

RIVER'S EDGE FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 18-21, KY 
Deadline: July 15. Fest dubs itself the 
"fastest-growing arts district in U.S.A. 
Dedicated to bringing the world of independ- 
ent film to a smart, arts-minded river region. " 
Formats: DVD, 1/2", 16mm, 35mm, Mini-DV 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $1 5-$35. 
Contact: Maiden Alley Cinema; (270) 442- 
7723; info@riversedgefilmfestival.com; 
www.riversedgefilmfestival.com. 

ROUTE 66 FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 17-18, IL 
Deadline: July 15. Fest seeks works that 
"involve some kind of journey" (physical, 
emotional, intellectual). Cats: feature, short, 
experimental. Awards: Awards for judges' 
choice, best of fest, audience favorite. 
Formats: 1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: $20 (features); $10 (shorts, under 20 
mm.). Contact: Linda McElroy; linmcelroy 
©aol.com; www.route66filmfestival.com. 



58 The Independent I July/August 2005 



SAN DIEGO GIRL FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 7-9, CA. 
Deadline: June 1; Aug. 1 (final). Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, Mini-DV, DVD, Beta SP. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $25; $30 
(final). Contact: San Diego Women Film 
Festival; (858) 531-5390; ReneeHerrell 
©sdgff.org; www.sdgff.org. 

SCOTTSDALE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 7-11, 
AZ. Deadline: Aug. 15. Feature length films 
w/the goal of entertaining, educating & stim- 
ulating new thoughts & ideas. A variety of 
subjects, themes, & messages are pro- 
grammed. Founded: 2001. Cats: feature, 
doc. Awards: Audience Awards: Best film, 
best actor, best actress, best screenplay, 
best director. Formats: 35mm, Beta SP, DV- 
Cam. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Amy Ettinger; (602) 410- 
1074; scottsdalelFF@aol.com; www.scotts 
dalefilmfestival.com. 

SCREAMFEST HORROR FILM & SCREENPLAY 
COMPETITION, October 14-23, CA. Deadline: 
July 15; Aug. 15. Fest is a mix of films, 
sketch comedy, & contests for best costume 
& loudest shriek. Festivities take place at the 
Vogue Theatre in Hollywood. Cats: feature, 
short, animation, script. Entry Fee: features 
$40, shorts $30 & screenplays $35. Contact: 
Rachel Belofsky, festival producer; (310) 358- 
3273; fax: 358-3272; screamfestla@aol.com; 
www.screamfestla.com. 

SHOCKERFEST, Sept. 23-25, CA. Deadline: 
June 15; July 15. Formerly the Firelight 
Shock Film Festival, fest is genre specific to 
the Horror, Fantasy & Sci-Fi genres, accept- 
ing all lengths & styles of film w/in these 
genres. All films are prescreened & judged 
prior to public exhibition. Founded: 2002. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, animation, experi- 
mental. Formats: 35mm, DVD. Preview on 
VHS (NTSC). Entry Fee: Short: $45, $55 
(late); Mini-Short: $35; Feature: $55, $65 
(late). Contact: Dr. George Baker; (866) 988- 
2886; fax: (209) 531-0233; director@shocke 
fest.com; www.shockerfest.com. 

SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL, January 19 27, 
UT. Deadline: shorts: Aug. 29; Oct. 11 (final); 
features: Aug. 29; Oct. 17 (final). Started by 
3 filmmakers in 1995, fest's primary objec- 
tive is to present new indie films by new 
filmmakers. Fest runs concurrent w/ 



Sundance Film Festival & takes place in the 
heart of Park City, Utah. Films showcased 
attract industry interest & several have 
received distrib. & agency rep. Founded: 
1995. Cats: Short, Doc, Feature, Animation, 
Experimental, Any style or genre. Awards: 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 3/4", 1/2", Beta SP, 
DVD, Web. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $25- 
$60. Contact: Slamdance; (323) 466-1786; 
fax: 466-1784; mail@slamdance.com; 
www.slamdance.com. 

ST. LOUIS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 10 20, 

MO. Deadline: March 1; July 31 (final). 
Annual fest brings together American indies, 
horizon-expanding int'l films & mainstream 
studio films to audiences prior to commercial 
release. Cats: Short, Doc, Feature, 
Animation. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $50 (features); 
$25 (shorts, under 45 mm.); $1 00/$50 (all late 
films); discount though Withoutabox. 
Contact: Chris Clark, Artistic Director; (314) 
454-0042, ext. 12; fax: 454-0540; chris@cine 
mastlouis.org; www.sliff.org. 

STARZ DENVER INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 1 0- 

20, CO. Deadline: July 15. Annual invitational 
expo of film presents approx. 200 films over 
1 1 days & plays host to more than 125 film 
artists. Founded: 1978. Cats: feature, doc, 
animation, experimental, children, short, 
family, student. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
video. Preview on VHS (NTSC/PAL) or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $20 (students); $35. Contact: 
Denver Film Society; (303) 595-3456; fax: 
595-0956; dfs@denverfilm.org; www.den 
verfilm.org. 

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL, Jan 20-30, UT 
Deadline: Aug. 19 (features/shorts); Sept. 2 
(Final: shorts); Sept. 16 (Final: features). 
Dramatic & doc entries for the Independent 
Feature Film Competition must have 50% 
U.S. financing & be completed no earlier 
than Oct. of previous year. For competi- 
tion, entries must be world premieres. 
Foreign feature & documentary filmsdess 
than 50% U.S. financed) are eligible for the 
World Cinema Competition. Ind feature film 
competition awards Grand Jury Prize, 
Cinematography Award & Directing Award 
(popular ballot). Other awards: in dramatic 
cat, Screenwriters Award; in doc cat, 
Freedom of Expression Award. All films in 



Competition are also eligible for Audience 
Awards. American films selected in short 
film cat are eligible for the Jury Prize in 
American Short Filmmaking. About 135 fea- 
ture-length & 90 short films are selected for 
each fest & large audience of over 36,000 
incl. major distributors, programmers, jour- 
nalists, critics & agents. Int'l press coverage 
extensive. Founded: 1985. Cats: Feature, 
Short, Doc. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, DV, 
Video. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $25/$35 
(shorts); $35/$50 (features). Contact: 
Geoffrey Gilmore/John Cooper; (310) 360- 
1981; fax: 360-1969; programming@sun 
dance.org; www.sundance.org. 

TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 2 5, CO 
Deadline: May 1; July 15 (final). Annual fest, 
held in a Colorado mountain town, is a Labor 
Day weekend celebration commemorating 
the art of filmmaking: honoring the great 
masters of cinema, discovering the rare & 
unknown, bringing new works by the world's 
greatest directors & the latest in independ- 
ent film. Cats: feature, short, student, any 
style or genre, doc, experimental. Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, 3/4", 1/2", S-VHS, Beta, Beta 
SP, DigiBeta, Hi8, DV, DVD. Preview on VHS 
or DVD. Entry Fee: $35 (19 min. or less); $55 
(20-39 mm); $75 (40-59 mm.); $95 (60 mm. & 
over); $25 (student films, any length). 
Contact: Bill Pence / Tom Luddy; (603) 433- 
9202; fax: 433-9206; mail@telluridefilmfesti 
val.org; www.telluridefilmfestival.org. 

TEMECULA VALLEY INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, 

September 14-18, CA. Deadline: July 30. 
Cats: Feature, Short, Student. Formats: 
35mm, Beta, Beta SP. Preview on VHS or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $25; $10 students. Contact: 
Jo Moulton; (909) 699-8681; fax: 699-5503; 
tviff@earthlmk.net; www.tviff.com. 

TULSA OVERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 19- 

21, OK. Deadline: July 18. Designed to chal- 
lenge, inspire, & showcase Oklahoma film- 
makers; emphasizes the unique characters, 
experiences, & locations that Oklahoma has 
to offer. Works must not be longer than 20 
min. Cats: feature, doc, short, animation, 
experimental, any style or genre. Formats: 
1/2", Mini-DV, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $15. Contact: Festival; (918) 
585-1 223; tulsaoverground@hotmail.com; 
www.tulsaoverground.com. 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 59 



WILUAMSTOWN FILM FESTIVAL. Oct 28-Nov. 
6, MA. Deadline: Aug. 23. A non-competi- 
tive, boutique test which showcases inde- 
pendent features & shorts to highlight film in 
the Berkshires, a part of America celebrated 
for world-class theater, art, music, & dance. 
Founded: 1998. Cats: feature, doc, short, ani- 
mation, student. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
S-VHS, Beta, super 8, DVD. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $20-$55. Contact: Steve Lawson; 
(413) 458-9700; fax: 458-2702; 
contactus@williamstownfilmfest.com; 
www.williamstownfilmfest.com. 

WOMEN IN THE DIRECTORS CHAIR INT L FILM & 
VIDEO FESTIVAL, March 12-21, IL. Deadline: 
Sept. 1, Oct. 1 (final). Annual fest is the 
largest & longest running women's 
film/video fest in U.S. Founded: 1979. Cats: 
any style or genre, installation, children, fam- 
ily, TV, youth media, student, music video, 
experimental, animation, feature, doc, short. 
Formats: 3/4", 16mm, 35mm, Beta, 1/2", 
Beta SP, U-matic. Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: $20 (early, WIDC members); $30 (final). 
Contact: Festival; (773) 907-0610; fax: (773) 
907-0381; widc@widc.org; www.widc.org. 

INTERNATIONAL 

AMIENS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 10-20, 
France. Deadline: July 15 (docs); Aug. 31 
(features/animation). Works addressing iden- 
tity of a people or a minority, racism or issues 
of representation. In competition, entries 
must have been completed between Sept. 
or previous yr. & Oct. of yr. of edition; also 
must be French premieres. Founded: 1980. 
Cats: Feature, Short, doc, animation, chil- 
dren. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta, Beta SP 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Jean-Pierre Garcia, artistic dir.; 011 
33 3 22 71 35 70; fax: 92 53 04; 
contact@filmfestamiens.org; www.filmfes 
tamiens.org. 

ATHENS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 16 25, 
Greece. Deadline: July 15. This fest's aim is 
to reinforce the fest's character, as a cine- 
matographic celebration, & to promote 
Athens, as a capital of young cinema lovers, 
where young & restless cinematography is 
adored. Cats: feature, doc, short, animation. 
Formats: 16mm, 35mm, Beta SP. Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Athens Int'l 



Film Festival- "Opening Nights"; (011) 30 
210 6061689; fax: 210 6014137; 
festival@pegasus.gr; www.aiff.gr. 

BAHIA INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 8-15, Brazil 
Deadline: June 30 (Competition); July 15 
(Market). The Fest is open to Ibero-Amencan 
prods as well as non-lbero-American prods 
about Latin Amer. subjects. Program incl. 
film & video conquest, retros, symposia & 
exhibitions, expositions. Market takes place 
during fest; objective is "to create an alter- 
native space for commercialization & int'l dis- 
tribution of exp. & ind. film & video prods." 
Cats: Any style or genre. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta SP. Preview on VHS (max 
length: 60 mm.). Entry Fee: $50. Contact: 
Universidade Federal da Bahia; 011 55 71 
235 4392; fax: 55 71 336 1680; jorn 
ada@ufba.br; www.jornadabahia.cjb.net. 

BILBAO INT'L FESTIVAL OF DOC & SHORT FILMS, 

Nov. 29-Dec. 4, Spain. Deadline: Sept. 1. 
Cats: short (no longer than 45 min.), doc, ani- 
mation, experimental. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta SP, DV Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: None. Contact: Colon de Larreategui; 
011 (34) 94-424-86-98; fax: 94-424-56-24; 
info@zinebi.com; www.zinebi.com. 

BITE THE MANGO FILM FESTIVAL, September 
23-29, UK. Deadline: Aug. 6. Presented by 
the Nat'l Museum of Photography, Film & 
Television, this fest is Europe's leading fest 
for Black & Asian films. Films must have 
been completed after Jan 1 , of previous year. 
Cats: feature, doc, experimental, short. 
Formats: Beta SP, 35mm, 16mm, DVD. 
Preview on VHS (PAL only) or DVD. Entry 
Fee: none. Contact: Irfan Ajeeb; 44 1274 203 
311; irfan.ajeeb@nmsi. ac.uk; www.bitethe 
mango.org.uk. 

BRADFORD ANIMATION FESTIVAL, November 
16-19, UK. Deadline: July 8. The largest ani- 
mation fest in the UK, presented by the Nat'l 
Museum of Photography, Film & Television. 
At the heart of the fest are the BAF! Awards. 
Founded: 1994. Cats: animation, experimen- 
tal, children, family, TV. Formats: 35mm, Beta 
SP, 16mm, DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Lisa Kavanagh; 44 1274 203 
408; fax: 770 217; lisa.kavanagh@nmsi.ac.uk; 
www.baf.org.uk. 



BRAUNSCHWEIG INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 8- 

13, Germany. Deadline: Aug. 15. Audience 
orientated feature film fest w/ 18,000 spec- 
tators, showing 60 long feature films, 120 
short films. Founded: 1986. Cats: feature, 
short, children, experimental, animation, doc. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Festival; 011 49 (0) 0531-75597; fax: 0531- 
75523; info@filmfest-braunschweig.de; 
www.filmfest-braunschweig.de. 

CABBAGETOWN SHORT FILM & VIDEO 
FESTIVAL, Sept. 7, Canada. Deadline: Aug. 3. 
Fest, held as past of Toronto's Cabbagetown 
Festival, accepting works under 15 mm. 
Cats: Experimental, Doc, Animation, short. 
Formats: 1/2". Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Old Cabbagetown Business 
Improv. Office; (416) 921-0857; fax: 921- 
8245; info@oldcabbagetown.com; www.old 
cabbagetown.com. 

CINEFEST: SUDBURY INTERNATIONAL FILM FES- 
TIVAL, September 17-25, Canada. Deadline: 
July 1 5. preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Festival; (705) 688-1234; 
fax: 688-1351; cinefest@cinefest.com; 
www.cinefest.com. 

CORTO IMOLA FESTIVAL, Dec 8-12, Italy 
Deadline: Aug. 21. Their website describes 
this fest as "a cultural manifestation" that 
aims to "express the enormous potential of 
the short film cinema." Cats: short (under 30 
min.):, doc, experimental, animation, fiction. 
Awards: Cash prizes for the Best in: Doc, 
Fiction, Animation, & Experimental. Formats: 
35mm, Beta SP (PAL), DVD (Zone 1 accept- 
ed). Preview on VHS (PAL. NTSC or SECAM). 
Contact: for June to October Corto Imola 
Festival; 011(39)0544-464349; fax: 0544- 
464349; mfo@cortoimolafestival.it; www.cor 
toimolafestival.it. 

DEAUVILLE FESTIVAL OF AMERICAN FILM, Sept 
2-11, France. Deadline: July 15. Fests mis- 
sion is "to increase the European audience 
for American cinema through an extensive 
presentation of new American films". Fest 
has three sections: Premieres; Competition 
(shorts & features) & Panorama (non-com- 
petitive) & Doc (non-competitive). Cats: fea- 
ture, short. Formats: 35mm. Preview on VHS 
or DVD. Entry Fee: None. Contact: c/o Le 
Public Systeme Cinema; 01 1 33 41 34 2033; 



60 The Independent I July/August 2005 



fax: 41 34 2077; jlasserre@le-public-sys 
teme.fr; www.festival-deauville.com. 

EXGROUND FILMFEST, Nov 1120, Germany 
Deadline: Aug. 1. Non-competitive fest 
seeks "American independents, films from 
the Far East, shorts, music films, trash & 
more" for event outside the mainstream. 
Competition European production & German 
shorts. Founded: 1990. Cats: feature, doc, 
short, animation, experimental, music video. 
Formats: 16mm, 35mm, Beta SR super 8. 
Preview on VHS (NTSC or PAL). Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Andrea Wink; 011 49 61 1 1 74 
8227; fax: 174 8228; info@exground.com; 
www.exground.com . 

FANTASTISK FILM FESTIVAL: LUND INT'L FILM 
FESTIVAL, Sept. 16-25, Sweden. Deadline: 
July 30. The only int'l film fest in Scandinavia 
totally devoted to the cinema of the fantas- 
tic: science-fiction, fantasy, horror, & thriller. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, animation. Awards: 
Melies d'Argent/Best European Fantastic 
Film (feature, short), Audience Prize (feature, 
live-action short, animation short). Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, DV (PAL), Beta SP (PAL). 
Preview on VHS (PAL or NTSC) or DVD. 
Entry Fee: None (shorts have to pay their 
own freight). Contact: Mats-Ola Nilsson; 01 1 
46 46 132 135; fax: 132 139; info@fff.se; 
www.fff.se. 

FILMFEST HAMBURG, Sept 22-29, Germany 
Deadline: July 24. The Fest is Germany's 
major cinematic events. The programme of 
about 100 titles shows a distinctive mixture 
of mainstream cinema, art-house & films of 
up-and-coming directors. Founded: 1969. 
Cats: feature, doc, animation, digital produc- 
tions. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Festival; 011 49 399 19 00 0; fax: 40 399 
19 00 10; office@filmfesthamburg.de; 
www.filmfesthamburg.de. 

FLANDERS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL- GHENT, Oct 

11-22, Belgium. Deadline: Aug 10. Fest orig- 
inated in 1 973 w/ focus on music in film. Int'l 
|ury selects winners from features from 
around the world (many of them w/out a 
Belgian distribution). Fest incl. films from all 
over the world, mainly focusing on fiction 
films & to lesser extent on docs. Founded: 
1973. Cats: feature, doc, short. Formats: 



16mm, 35mm, 70mm, Beta SP, DigiBeta. 
Preview on VHS (PAL or NTSC). Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Wim De Witte c/o les 
Citadines; 011 32 478 20 20 02; info@film 
festival.be; www.filmfestival.be. 

GIJON INT'L FILM FESTIVAL FOR YOUNG 
PEOPLE, Nov. 24- Dec. 2, Spain. Deadline: 
Sept. 23. Member of FIAPF & European 
Coordination of Film Festivals. Festival aims 
to present the newest tendencies of young 
cinema worldwide. Founded: 1962. Cats: 
Feature, Short, Children. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Jose Luis Cienfuegos, 
Festival Director; 011 34 98 518 2940; fax: 
34 98 518 2944; festivalgijon@telecable.es; 
www.gijonfilmfestival.com. 

GLOBAL VISIONS FILM FESTIVAL, Nov 3 6, 

Canada. Deadline: July 31. GVFF presents 
documentary films on social & environmental 
issues. Formats: Beta SP, DVD, 35mm, 
16mm. Preview on VHS or DVD (NTSC). 
Entry Fee: $25. Contact: GVFF; (780) 414- 
1 052; entries@globalvisionsfestival.com; 
globalvisionsfestival.com. 

HAMBURG LESBIAN AND GAY FILM FESTIVAL, 

Oct. 11-16, Germany. Deadline: Aug. 1. 
Festival seeks work of all lengths & genres. 
Cats: any style or genre, feature, doc, short. 
Formats: super 8, 16mm, 1/2", 35mm, S- 
VHS, U-matic, Beta SP, DVD. Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: No entry fee. 
Contact: Querbild E.V., Joachim Post; 01 1 49 
40 348 06 70; fax: 34 05 22; mail@lsf-ham 
burg.de; www.lsf-hamburg.de. 

INTERFILM BERLIN INT'L SHORT FILM FESTIVAL 
BERLIN, Nov. 1-6, Germany. Deadline: July 
16. Fest is the int'l short film event of Berlin. 
Films & videos no longer than 20 min. are eli- 
gible. There is no limit as to the yr. of pro- 
duction. Founded: 1982. Cats: doc, short, 
animation, experimental, children. Awards: 
15 prizes in various cats. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta SP Preview on VHS 
(PAL/SECAM/NTSC) or DVD. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Heinz Hermanns; 011 49 30 
693 29 59; fax: 49 30 693 29 59; 
festival@interfilm.de; www.interfilm.de. 

INT'L PANORAMA FOR INDEPENDENT 
FILMMAKERS, Sept. 25 - Oct. 1, Greece. 



Deadline: August 1. This fest aims to bring 
attention to the glory of the 7th art by bring- 
ing together a global community of filmmak- 
ers & filmgoers. A special focus is drawn to 
the local community in tone & special prizes. 
Cats: feature, short, doc, animation, experi- 
mental. Formats: Beta cam, VHS, DV cam, 
Beta, DVD, Mini-DV, 1/2". Preview on VHS 
or DVD. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Chionidis 
Panagiotis; 011 32310 959 4931; fax: 959 
4936; info@independent.gr; www.independ 
ent.gr. 

KASSEL DOC FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, Nov 8 

13, Germany. Deadline: Aug. 1. This fest 
aims to celebrate the art of documentary 
filmmaking in it's six day fest. Cats: doc, fea- 
ture, short, installation. Awards: Cash Prizes 
range from 2,500 euros to 3,000 euros. 
Formats: 16mm, 35mm, DV, DVD, S-VHS, 
Betacam. Preview on VHS or DVD (NTSC or 
PAL). Entry Fee: None. Contact: c/o 
Filmladen Kassel E.V.; 01 1 49 561 707 64 1 2; 
fax: 707 64 41; dokfest@filmladen.de; 
www.filmladen.de/dokfest. 

KINOFILM/MANCHESTER INT'L SHORT FILM & 
VIDEO FESTIVAL, Feb. 27- March 6, England. 
Deadline: July 16. Entry is open to anyone in 
the film making community incl. first time 
film makers. Founded: 1993. Cats: Short, 
Animation, Experimental, music video, stu- 
dent, children, doc, any style or genre. 
Formats: 35mm, Beta SP, Mini-DV, DVD. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 5 pounds UK (5 
Euros or US $10). Contact: John Wojowski, 
Fest Dir; 01 1 44 161 288 2494; fax: 161 281 
1374; kino.submissions@good.co.uk; 

www.kinofilm.org.uk. 

LEIPZIG INT'L FESTIVAL FOR DOC & ANIMATED 
FILMS , Oct. 3-9, Germany. Deadline: July 22. 
Founded: 1955. Cats: doc, animation, TV 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, DigiBeta. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Gerol Wernes Schnabel; 011 
49 341 9 80 39 21; fax: 9 80 61 41; 
info@dokfestival-leipzig.de; www.dokfestival 
leipzig.de. 

LES ECRANS DE L'AVENTURE/INT'L FESTIVAL OF 
ADVENTURE FILM, Oct 14 16, France 
Deadline: July 15. Held in Dijon, fest is a 
showcase for recent adventure-themed 
docs. Cats: doc, children. Formats: Beta SP 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 61 



(PAL). Preview on VHS (PAL, Secam) or DVD. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: Geo Poussier; 
01 1 33 1 43 26 97 52; fax: 33 1 46 34 75 45; 
aventure@la-guilde.org. 

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 19 Nov 3, UK 

Deadline: July 15. Overall, 180 int'l features 
& 100 short films showcased. Extensive 
media coverage & audiences over 110,000. 
Entries must be UK premieres, produced 
w/in preceding 18 months. Founded: 1957. 
Cats: short, animation, feature, doc, any 
style or genre, children. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, 8mm, 3/4", super 8, 70mm. Preview 
on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Sarah 
Lutton; 011 44 20 7815 1322; fax: 44 
20 7633 0786; sarah.lutton@bfi.org.uk; 
www.lff.org.uk. 

MONTPELLIER INT'L FESTIVAL OF 
MEDITERRANEAN FILM, Oct 21-30, France 
Deadline: July 15 (shorts, docs); Aug. 31 (fic- 
tion features). Competitive fest seeking works 
of fiction by directors from the Mediterranean 
Basin, the Black Sea states, Portugal or 
Armenia which address the cultural represen- 
tation of the areas. Fest offers a development 
aid grant to a single feature-length film. Cats: 
Feature, Short, doc. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, 
Video for docs & experimental. Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. Contact 
Cinema Mediterranee; 011 33 499 13 73 73 
fax: 011 33 499 13 73 74 
info@cmemed.tm.fr; www.cinemed.tm.fr. 

MONTREAL WORLD FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 25- 

Sept. 5, Canada . Deadline: June 23 (shorts); 
July 30 (Features). Features in competition 
must be prod in 12 months preceding fest, 
not released commercially outside of country 
of origin & not entered in any competitive 
int'l film fest (unreleased films given priority). 
Shorts must be 70mm or 35mm & must not 
exceed 15 min. Founded: 1977. Cats: fea- 
ture, short, any style or genre. Formats: 
35mm, 70mm, DVD, Video. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: none. Contact: Serge Losique, 



Fest Dir.; (514) 848-3883; 848-9933; 
fax: 848-3886; info@ffm-montreal.org; 
www.f f m-montrea I .org . 

NORDIC FILM DAYS LUBECK, Nov 4-7, 
Germany. Deadline: Aug. 20. This fest aims 
to promote Scandinavian & Baltic filmmak- 
ers. Cats: short, feature. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta SP Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
none. Contact: Janina Prossek; 011 0451 
122 1742; fax: 0451 122 1799; 
janina.prossek@filmtage.luebeck.de; 
www.filmtage.luebeck.de. 

OURENSE INT'L INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL, 

Nov. 12-19, Spain. Deadline: July 31. Fest 
accepts works in all genres & languages to 
compete for cash prizes. Founded: 1996. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, experimental, ani- 
mation. Formats: 35mm, 1/2", Beta SP. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Patricia Iglesias; 01 1 34 988 224 127; fax: 34 
988 296 9619; oufest@ourencine.com; 
www.ourencine.com. 

REGENSBURG SHORT FILM WEEK, Nov 16-23, 
Germany. Deadline: Aug. 1. Regenburg rev- 
els in the unique aesthetic of the short film in 
it's week-long fest. Cats: short (under 30 
mm. only). Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 8mm, S- 
VHS, DVD, DV, 1/2", Beta SP. Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Festival; 01 1 
49 941 56 09 01; fax: 941 56 07 16; 
info@kurzfilmwoche.de; www.regensburg 
er-kurzf ilmwoche.de. 

SAO PAULO INT'L FILM FESTVAL, Oct 21 -Nov 3, 
Brazil. Deadline: Aug 9. Founded: 1979. Cats: 
feature, doc, short. Formats: 35mm, 16mm. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Festival; 011 55 11 3141 2548; 
fax: 55-11-3266-7066; info@mostra.org; 
www.mostra.org. 

SHORT CUTS COLOGNE, Nov 30 Dec 4, 

Germany. Deadline: July 30. Int'l competition 
welcomes filmmakers from around the globe 



to submit their films. Cats: doc, short, exper- 
imental, animation, children, any style or 
genre. Formats: Super 8, 16mm, 35mm, 
DVD, S-VHS, Beta SP, DV, 1/2". Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Festival; 011 49 221 222 710 27; fax: 222 
710 99; scc@koel ner-filmhaus.de; 
www.short-cuts-cologne.de. 

SHORT SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL, May Aug , 

Japan. Deadline: Aug. 1. SSFF (Formerly 
American Shorts) was founded to promote 
cultural exchange between the United States 
& Japan. Seeks shorts under 25 min. that 
were produced since January of previous 
year. Cats: short. Preview on VHS NTSC 
only.. Entry Fee: No entry fees. Contact: Katy 
O'Connell, Prog. Asst; (310) 656-9767; fax: 
same; look@shortshorts.org; www.short- 
shorts.org. 

SPORT MOVIES & TV, Oct. 27-Nov. 1, Italy. 
Deadline: July 30. Fest dubs itself "the most 
important Worldwide fest dedicated to 
sports television & movies." Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: 60 Euros; 01 1 39 02 894 090 
76; fax: 837 59 73; :nfo@sportmovi estv.com; 
www.sport moviestv.com. 

TAIWAN INT'L CHILDREN'S TV & FILM FESTIVAL, 

Jan. 13-17, Taiwan. Deadline: August 20. 
Cats: children, feature, animation, TV, doc. 
Formats: Beta SP, 16mm, 35mm. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Gary Sheu; 011 886 2 2630 
1137; fax: 2630 1854; kuojensheu 
@yahoo.com.tw; www.tictff.org.tw. 

TOKYO FILMEX, Nov. 19-27, Japan. Deadline: 
July 31. Founded: 2000. Cats: features by 
Asian directors. Awards: Grand Prize, Special 
Jury Prize. Formats: 35mm, 16mm. Preview 
on VHS (all formats) . Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: TOKYO FILMeX office; 81 3 3560 
6393; fax: 3 3586 0201; info@filmex.net; 
www.filmex.net. 



62 The Independent I July/August 2005 



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BUY/SELL/RENT 

AQUARIUS HEALTH CARE VIDEOS is the leading dis- 
tributor/producer of documentary films on health 
care issues. Our programs are educational and 
inspirational and focus on life challenging situa- 
tions. We are currently seeking additional films 
to add to our award winning collection. Our 
strong, targeted marketing program will increase 
awareness and sales for you. Please send a pre- 
view VHS or DVD to Aquarius Health Care 
Videos, 18 North Mam Street, Sherbom, MA 
01770 or call (888) 440-2963, lbk@aquariuspro 
ductions.com. 

CAMERA RENTALS FOR LOW BUDGETS. Production 
Junction is owned & operated by a fellow inde- 
pendent. Cameras, Lights, Mies, Decks, 
etc. Equipment & prices at www. Production 
Junction.com. Email: Chris@Production 
Junction.com or call (917) 288-9000. 

THE CINEMA GUILD, leading film/video/multimedia 
distributor, seeks new doc, fiction, educational & 
animation programs for distribution. Send video- 
cassettes or discs for evaluation to: The Cinema 
Guild, 130 Madison Ave., 2nd fl., New York, NY 
10016; (212) 685-6242; info@CINEMA 
GUILD.COM; Ask for our Distribution Services 
brochure. 

DIGIBETA/BETA-SP DECKS FOR RENT Best Prices in 
NYC! Transfer to DVD only $40. VHS dubs. 
DVCAM decks & camera packages by 
day/week/month. 1:1 Meridian Avid suite & 
MC4000 suite. Production office space, too! Call 



Production Central (212) 631-0435, www.prod 
central.com. 

FANLIGHT PRODUCTIONS 20+ years as an industry 
leader! Join more than 100 award-winning film & 
video producers. Send us your new works on 
healthcare, mental health, aging, disabilities, 
and related issues. (800) 937-4113; www.fan 
light.com. 

OFFICE SPACE within well-established video facili- 
ty. 5 Office Rooms/Production Space available. 
Access to adjoining conference room, kitchen, 
large sun-filled lounge. Stage & post rooms on 
site. 22 Year-old Full Production/Post Production 
Facility seeking media-related tenants for mutual- 
ly beneficial relationship. Great Chelsea location. 
(212)206-1402. 

UNION SQUARE AREA STAGE RENTALS, production 
space, Digibeta, Beta SP, DVCAM, mini-DV, hi-8, 
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FREELANCE 

35MM & 16MM PROD. PKG. w/ DP Complete pack- 
age w/ DP's own Arn 35BL, 16SR, HMIs, lighting, 
dolly, Tulip crane, camjib, DAT, grip & 5-ton truck, 
more. Call for reel: Tom Agnello (201) 741-4367; 
roadtoindy@aol com . 

ACCOUNTANT/BOOKKEEPER/CONTROLLER: 

Experience in both corporate & nonprofit sectors. 
Hold MBA in Marketing & Accounting. Freelance 



work sought. Sam Sagenkahn (917) 374-2464. 

ANDREW DUNN, Director of Photography/ camera 
operator Arn35 BL3, Aaton XTRprod S16, Sony 
DVCAM. Experience in features, docs, TV & 
industrials. Credits: Dog Run, Strays, Working 
Space/Working Light. (212) 477-0172; 
AndrewDI 58@aol.com. 

ARE YOU STUCK? Fernanda Rossi, script & docu- 
mentary doctor, specializes in narrative structure 
in all stages of the filmmaking process, including 
story development, fundraising trailers and post- 
production. She has doctored over 30 films and is 
the author of Trailer Mechanics. For private con- 
sultations and workshops visit www.documen 
tary doctor.com or write to info@documentarydoc 
tor.com. 

CAMERAMAN/STEADICAM OPERATOR Owner 
Steadicam, Arri 35 BL, Arri 16 SR, Beta SP, Stereo 
TC Nagra 4, TC Fostex PD-4 DAT, lighting pack- 
ages to shoot features, music videos, commer- 
cials, etc. Call Mik Cribben for info & reel, (212) 
929-7728 in NY or 800-235-2713 in Miami. 

COMPOSER MIRIAM CUTLER loves to collaborate: 
docs, features. Lost In La Mancha/IFC, Scout's 
Honor, Licensed To Kill, Pandemic: Facing 
Aids/HBO, Indian Point/HBO, Positively 
Naked/HBO, Stolen Childhoods, Amy's O & 
more. (310) 398-5985 mir.cut@verizon.net. 
www.miriam cutler.com. 

COMPOSER: Original music for your film or video 
proiect. Will work with any budget. Complete dig- 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 63 



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Call Ian O'Brien: (201) 222-2638; iobrien@bel 
latlantic.net. 

DP WITH ARRI SR SUPER 16/16MM AND 35BL-2 
CAMERA PACKAGES. Expert lighting and cam- 
erawork for independent films, music videos, 
etc. Superb results on a short schedule and 
low budget. Great prices. Willing to travel. 
Matthew 617-244-6730. 

DIGITAL DP/CAMERA OPERATOR: with a Sony 
DSR-500WSL/1 camera package. Electronic 
Cinematography, documentary, independent 
friendly, reasonable rates. Full Screen/Wide 
Screen-(4:3/16:9). For reel, rate & info call: 
(516)783-5790. 

EXPERIENCED CINEMATOGRAPHER with crew 
and equipment. 16mm 35mm Video. Short 
films and features. Vincent (212) 779-1441 . 

FREELANCE CAMERA GROUP IN NYC seeking 
professional cameramen and soundmen w/ 
solid Betacam experience to work w/ wide 
array of clients. If qualified, contact COA at 
(212) 505-1911. Must have documentary 
/news samples or reel. 

FUNDRAISING/GRANTWRITING/PROJECT DEVEL- 
OPMENT Research, writing & strategy for 
production, distribution, exhibition & educa- 
tional media. Successful proposals to NYSCA, 
NEA, Sundance, ITVS, Rockefeller 
Foundation, Robeson Foundation. Fast 
writers, reasonable rates. Wanda Bershen, 
(212) 598-0224; www.reddiaper.com. 

NEW MUSIC PRODUCTION COMPANY with 
many years combined composing experience. 
Audioreel provides all the services that you 
may require for your production, from scoring 
to picture, too flash music for web sites. 

SOUND RECORDIST/PLAYBACK OP. available for 
Features, Music Videos, and Corporate. 
Equipment- Dat / Nagra (time code), 5 wire- 
less mics, mixers, playback speakers, smart 
slate, comteks, cart: Mike S. 212-620-0084. 

STEADICAM OPERATOR - NY based, experi- 
enced and professional. Top of the line equip- 
ment: TB-6 monitor,2xBFD Follow Focus/ 
Aperture, Modulus. 35mm, 16mm, HD, 
BetaSP. Call George @ 212-620-0084. 



64 The Independent I July/August 2005 



OPPORTUNITIES/GIGS 

COORDINATOR BIG MUDDY FILM FESTIVAL. 

Southern Illinois University Carbondale 
College of Mass Communication and Media 
Arts. Bachelor's degree in film, media studies, 
or related field, two years experience in 
supervisory position including direct experi- 
ence in budgeting, personnel management, 
and planning required. Evidence of excellent 
written and verbal communication skills, famil- 
iarity with grant writing/fundraising processes 
in the arts or humanities required. Evidence of 
leadership role in community service oriented 
activity preferred. The Coordinator supervises 
all aspects of the planning and execution of 
the Festival including matters of budget, 
staffing, and scheduling; engages in research- 
ing and applying for grants and funding; super- 
vises student staff; manages community rela- 
tions and outreach; and performs duties as 
assigned in support of the Festival and related 
College activities. The Big Muddy Film 
Festival presents an annual media event that 
honors innovative independent film and video 
work celebrating and analyzing a complex, 
diverse, and challenging world. It is unique for 
the region and special in times that give pri- 
mary attention to the entertainment industry 
and corporate control of media. Application 
Deadline: July 31, 2005, or until filled. Only 
applications by mail will be considered. Send 
letter of application, resume, and three letters 
of recommendation to: Professor Mike 
Covell, Search Committee Chair, Coordinator 
"Big Muddy Film Festival, Department of 
Cinema and Photography, Southern Illinois 
University Carbondale" Mail Code 6610, 
Carbondale, IL 62901. SIUC is an affirmative 
action/equal opportunity employer that strives 
to enhance its ability to develop a diverse fac- 
ulty and staff and to increase its potential to 
serve a diverse student population. All appli- 
cations are welcomed and encouraged and 
will receive consideration. 

DHTV, a progressive, nonprofit community 
media center and TV station in St. Louis, MO 
seeks works by indie producers. Half hour 
and 1 hour lengths. S-VHS accepted, DVD 
preferred. Nonexclusive rights release upon 
acceptance. No pay but exposure to 60,000 
cable households. Contact Manah 
Richardson, dhTV, 625 N. Euclid, St. Louis, Mo 
63108, 314.361.8870 x230, manah@dhtv.org. 



LOOKING FOR A GREAT STORY SET IN THE 
HEARTLAND? See, "How High Is A Robin's 
Nest?" At www.ronniebooks.com. 

POSTPRODUCTION 

BRODSKY & TREADWAY: film-to-tape transfers, 
wet-gate, scene-by-scene, reversal film only. 
Camera original Regular 8mm, Super 8, and 
16mm. For appointment call (978) 948-7985. 

CERTIFIED FINAL CUT PRO INSTRUCTOR AND 
EDITOR: DV and Beta SP - learn Final Cut Pro 
from professional editor and Apple Certified 
instructor. Log onto www.HighNoonprod.com 
or call 917-523-6260; or e-mail 
mfo@HighNoonProd.com. 

PRODUCTION TRANSCRIPTS: Verbatim tran- 
scription service for documentaries, 
journalists, film and video. Low prices & flat 
rates based on tape length, www.production 
transcripts.com for details or call: (888) 349- 
3022. 

PREPRODUCTION I 
DEVELOPMENT 




ft 

■linn 



ee Project Evaluation 



244 Finn ftvenue. Snlie u 2518 MY NY 10001 



SCRIPT/STORY/CREATIVE CONSULTANT w/ 8 

years Miramax experience, Maureen Nolan 
offers a full range of consulting services for 
writers and filmmakers. Script consults, 
coaching, story development, rewrites, etc. 
212-663-9389 or 917-620-6502. 

WEB 

WEB SITE DESIGNER: Create multimedia web 
sites, integrating video, sound, and special 
effects, that promote your films and/or your 
company, www.sabineprobstdesign.com. 
Info: Sabine Probst, phone: 646-226-7881, 
email: sabme@spromo.net. 



C 









"entertaining. ..exemplary 
cast and canny direction.*' 

— San Francisco Examiner 



Slightly 
Pregnant 




ques Demy's classic . 
irring Marcello Mastroia. 

s a man who is suddenly declare 
gnant and Catherine Deneuve 

girlfriend. Features the musi 
f Academy Award-winning 
composer Michel Legrand 




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xBERl A " R '9 h,s Resrved • kochlorbertilms.com 



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COMPETITIONS 

2005 SANTA BARBARA SCRIPT COMPETITION 

seeks submissions. Entry fee $40. Grand Prize 
$2000 Option, First Prize $750. All winners will 
also receive screenwriting related books, 
materials and or software. Special Cash Award 
for Regional Writer to be awarded to a South 
Coast Resident. (Santa Barbara, Ventura, San 
Luis Obispo counties in California). Regular 
submission deadline is June 30th and late 
is July 31. Contact: Geoff@santabar 
barascript.com or visit www.santabar 
barascript.com. 

THE AMATEUR MOVIE MAKERS ASSOCIATION 

seeks submissions for their Magic Moments 
Contest. Films should be one minute ( or less) 
video and submit it on VHS tape on or before 
August 5, 2005. You'll have a chance to be the 
winner or one of the two runner-ups selected 
by a panel of experienced judges. Please visit 
their website for more information: 
www.ammaweb.org. 



Annual TV Producers' Boot Camp, July 28-29, 
2005, in West Hollywood. The TV Producers' 
Boot Camp is an interactive, one and a half 
day event with the goal of providing "inside 
information" on how the TV industry really 
works. Through panels, sessions and work- 
shops as well as the Boot Camp Pitch Pit, 
where participants get face time with agents 
and production executives, attendees get 
real access to real pros in real time! If you 
have any questions, please visit NATPE web- 
site at www.natpe.org or contact Pamela. 

SILVERMAN AT (310) 453-4440. REEL VISION FILM- 
MAKERS' CONFERENCE October 21-23, 2005, 
Radisson Hotel, City Center Tucson, Arizona. 
In this competitive industry, filmmakers need 
an edge to break in. That edge is having an 
outstanding script and an innovative voice. 
Linda Seger is just one of the world class 
screenwriting and filmmaking instructors 
teaching attendees how to express their 
unique vision on film. Registration: $100, 
www.reelinspiration.org, 520-325-91 75. 



www.sextans.com/altercme/ or email alter 
cine@ca.tc. 

FOR MORE INF0RMATI0N.ARTISTS' FELLOW- 
SHIPS are $7,000 cash awards made to indi- 
vidual originating artists living and working in 
the state of New York for use in career devel- 
opment. Grants are awarded in 16 artistic 
disciplines, with applications accepted in eight 
categories each year. The next deadline for 
Artists' Fellowships is Monday, October 3, 
2005. At that time we will be accepting 
applications in the following categories: 
Architecture/ Environmental Structures, 
Choreography, Fiction, Music Composition, 
Painting, Photography, Playwriting/ 

Screenwriting, and Video. To learn more about 
Artists' Fellowships visit our website at: 
www.nyfa.org/afp. Applications for the 
remaining categories — Computer Arts, Crafts, 
Film, Nonfiction Literature, Performance Art/ 
Multidisciplinary Work, Poetry, Printmaking 
Drawing/Artists' Books, and Sculpture — will 
be accepted in early October 2006. 



CONFERENCES / WORKSHOPS 

COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL is the largest gath- 
ering of comic book, science fiction, film and 
television fans in the nation. Featuring celebri- 
ty guests, seminars on breaking into filmmak- 
ing and near 24-hour film retrospectives. 
Comic-Con is the place for fans of all things 
pop culture. For more information, visit 
www.comic-con.org. 

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF TELEVISION 
PROGRAM EXECUTIVES is producing the 3rd 



RESOURCES / FUNDS 

ALTER-CINE FOUNDATION will award a one- 
time grant of $1 0,000 to a video or filmmaker 
to assist in the production of a documentary 
proiect. The grant is aimed at young video 
and filmmakers from Africa, Asia and Latin 
America who want to direct a film in the Ian- 
gage of their choice. Application must be 
post paid to: Foundation Alter-Cine 5371 
avenue de I'Esplanade Montreal, QC CANA- 
DA H2T 2Z8 Only application received before 
Aug. 15, 2005 will be accepted-please visit 



BOSTON FILM/VIDEO FOUNDATION Seeks pro- 
posals for fiscal sponsorship from indie pro- 
ducers. No deadline or genre restrictions. 
Contact BFVF for brochure: Chene Martin, 
1126 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02215; (617) 
536-1540; fax: 536-3576; www/bfvf@aol.com. 

CALIFORNIA ARTS COUNCIL offers various 
grants & programs for performing arts. 
Contact: CA Arts Council, 1300 1 St, Ste. 930, 
Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 322-6555; (800) 
201-6201; fax: 322-6575; cac@cwo.com; 
www.cac.ca.gov. 



66 The Independent I July/August 2005 



CHICAGO UNDERGROUND FILM FUND Grants 
awarded to selected film or video makers 
for post-production on works-in-progress 
that are in keeping with the festival's mis- 
sion to promote works that push bound- 
aries, defy commercial expectations and 
transcend the mainstream of independent 
filmmaking. Grants: between $500 and 
$2,000 Chicago Underground Film Festival 
3109 North Western Ave. Chicago, IL 
60618 (phone) 773-327-FILM (fax) 773- 
327-3464 Email: info@cuff.org. Website: 
www.cuff.org. 

CR0SSP0INT FOUNDATION seeks to reduce 
discrimination and foster understanding 
and tolerance amongst all peoples. The 
Crosspoint Foundation specifically sup- 
ports projects in the areas of: Education, 
the arts, societal concerns, indigenous 
issues, intellectual property rights, religion, 
family, general cultural issues. Supporting 
the production and dissemination of docu- 
mentary film, dramatic works, CDs or other 
media; supporting public film, arts, and cul- 
tural festivals; facilitating public discussion 
and debate; encouraging and supporting 
educational activities; encouraging and sup- 
porting domestic and international 
exchanges. Grants in the range of 
$500-$2,000. The Crosspoint Foundation, 
Inc. 1 2322 W. 64th, PMB #1 1 8 Arvada, CO 
80004. Phone: 303.902.2072. FAX 
603.737.3388 Email: info@crosspointfoun 
dation.org. http://crosspointfoundation.org. 

ILLINOIS ARTS COUNCIL SPECIAL ASSIS- 
TANCE ARTS PROGRAM Matching grants of 
up to $1,500 avail, to IL artists for specific 
projects such as registration fees & travel 
to attend conferences, seminars, or work- 
shops; consultant fees for resolution of 
specific artistic problems; exhibits, per- 
formances, publications, screenings; mate- 
rials, supplies, or services. Apps. must be 
received at least 8 wks prior to project 
starting date. Degree students not eligible. 
(312) 814-6570 toll-free in IL (800) 237- 
6994; www.ilarts@artswire.org. 

JOHN D. & CATHERINE T. MACARTHUR FOUN- 
DATION Grants support public interest 
media projects, including independent 
documentary film, that advance the broad 
purposes of the Foundation: Human and 
Community Development and Global 



Security and Sustainability. John D. & 
Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 149 S. 
Dearborn St., Suite 1100, Chicago, IL 
60603 (phone) 312-726-8000; www.mac 
found.org. 

MEDIA ARTS TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FUND 

is designed to help non-profit media arts 
programs in New York State stabilize, 
strengthen or restructure their media arts 
organizational capacity, services and activi- 
ties. The fund will provide up to $2,000 per 
project to organizations which receive sup- 
port from NYSCAs Electronic Media and 
Film program. The Media Arts Technical 
Assistance fund can assist with the hiring 
of consultants or other activities which con- 
tribute to organizational, management and 
programming issues which influence the 
media arts activities. Contact Sherry Miller 
Hocking, Program Director at Experimental 
Television Center deadlines for application 
are January 1, 2005; April 1, July 1, and 
October 1 . 

PAUL ROBESON FUND for Independent 
Media Film/video projects that will reach a 
broad audience with an organizing compo- 
nent and can demonstrate that the produc- 
tion will be used for social change organiz- 
ing. Grants: Up to $15,000; most $3,000- 
$6,000 Paul Robeson Fund for 
Independent Media The Funding Exchange 
666 Broadway, Suite 500 New York, NY 
10012 212-529-5300 (fax) 212-982-9272 
Email: tnnhh.duong@fex.org Website: 
www.fex. org/2. 3_grantmakingindex.html. 

THE ANTHONY RADZIWILL DOCUMENTARY 
FUND Grants to emerging and established 
documentary filmmakers in the form of 
development funds (seed money) for spe- 
cific new projects. Administered by 
IFP/New York, the Fund seeks to provide 
an additional much-needed source of fund- 
ing for independent non-fiction filmmakers 
at the earliest stage of new work, tradition- 
ally a difficult point at which to secure fund- 
ing. The Fund is named in memory of the 
late Anthony Radziwill, an Emmy Award- 
winning documentary producer. Anthony 
Radziwill Documentary Fund IFP/New York 
104 West 29th Street, 12th Floor New 
York, NY 10001 Phone: 212-465-8200 x 
830 Email: docfund@ifp.org. Website: 
http://market.ifp.org/newyork/docfund. 



Now on DVD! 

O "Hysterical %$ 
and devastating!" 

-Lorraine Ali, iVeu'wrffc 




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/WINNERS /WINNERS 

M CHICAGO INTERNAKONAL » g CANNES FILM FESTIVAL M 

Wk. FILM FESTIVAL JJ W JURY PR:ZE J/ 



Elia Suleiman's critically-acclaimed satire chronicles 

the absurdities of life and love on both sides 

of the Palestinian-Israeli border. 

A Story of Love, 

Blackmail 

and Murder? 



marie,, julien 



Julian is reunited with 

% his lover Marie who is 

S WINNER ^ hiding a secret that he 

\ »nSu J must uncover and risk 

%. film festival j@? losing her forever. 

AVAILABLE AT 



HRfUlS 



) 2005 KOCH Lorber Films LLC 
irRwhls Resived • kochlorbertilms com 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 67 



THE FRAMELINE COMPLETION FUND encour- 
ages lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender 
film and videomakers to apply to Frameline 
for the Frameline Film & Video Completion 
Fund. Grants in a range of $3,000 to $5,000 
are available once annually for projects in the 
final stages of production. The Frameline 
Completion Fund was established in 1991 to 
assist artists in the final stages of produc- 
tion. Applications are available in August and 
grants are awarded annually in December. 

THE FREESOUND PROJECT is a website which 
aims to create a huge collaborative database 
of audio snippets, samples, recordings, 
bleeps, all released under the Creative 
Commons Sampling Plus License. The 
Freesound Project provides new and inter- 
esting ways of accessing these samples, 
allowing users to browse the sounds in new 
ways using keywords, up and download 
sounds to and from the database (under the 
same creative commons license), and inter- 
act with fellow sound-artists, http:// 
freesound.iua.upf.edu/index.php. 

THE LEEWAY FOUNDATION, which supports 
individual women artists, arts programs, and 
arts organizations in the Greater Philadelphia 
region, has announced the Art and Change 
Grants provide immediate, short-term grants 
of up to $2,500 to women artists in the 
Philadelphia region who need financial assis- 
tance to take advantage of opportunities for 
art and change. The artist's opportunity for 
change must be supported by or be in col- 
laboration with a Change Partner: a person, 
organization, or business that is providing 
the opportunity or is a part of the opportuni- 
ty in some way. Eligible Change Partners 
include mentors, editors, galleries, commu- 
nity art spaces, theaters, nonprofit organiza- 
tions, film studios, and clubs. (Art and 
Change Grant Deadlines: April 11, June 20, 
and October 31, 2005.) Visit the Leeway 
Foundation website for grantmaking guide- 
lines and application forms. 

THE NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR JEWISH CUL- 
TURE is inviting proposals for the Fund for 
Jewish Cultural Preservation (FJCP).T wo 
types of proposals will be considered: 1) 
institutional projects or programs — that is, 
projects that address the needs of a specific 
agency; and 2) field-wide projects, which 



serve the needs of a field, and which might 
be brought by an aggregate or consortium of 
agencies. The fund recommends a "ceiling" 
of $50,000 per year for grant requests and 
encourages requests with multiple sources 
of matching support. Visit the National 
Foundation for Jewish Culture Web site for 
complete program information. Deadline: 
July 14, 2005. 

VSA ARTS, an international nonprofit organi- 
zation dedicated to the participation of peo- 
ple with disabilities in the arts, has 
announced "Shifting Gears," an annual call 
for art and juried exhibit made possible with 
the support of Volkswagen of America, Inc. 
Now in its fourth year, the program will dis- 
tribute $60,000 in cash awards (including a 
grand prize of $20,000) to a total of fifteen 
finalists with disabilities. Finalists will be 
selected on aesthetic merit alone. Visit 
www.vsarts.org for more information. 
Application deadline: July 15, 2005. 

WIGGLYW0RLD GRANTS offers three distinct 
grant programs. Each program is designed to 
help ease the financial burden of making a 
film, allowing the filmmaker to more fully 
pursue artistic goals. The Roll Camera Grant 
provides grantees with use of WigglyWorld's 
16mm production package; the Out of the 
Can Grant provides this same access plus 
the use of the organization's 16mm analog 
post-production facilities; the New Model 
Edit grant provides access to a non-linear 
post-production suite, and there are also pro- 
grams granting financial assistance for insur- 
ance and rentals. Washington State resi- 
dents only. Northwest Film Forum and 
Wiggly World Studios, 1515 12 th Ave, 
Seattle WA 98122, T: (206) 329-2629, Fax: 
(206) 329-1193, www.nwfilmforum.org/wig 
glyworld/grants.shtml. Call for next deadline. 

WOMEN MAKE MOVIES is putting together a list 
of women looking for projects to produce or 
co-produce. We often get request from our 
filmmakers from around the world for sugges- 
tions for an American producer or co-producer 
and would love to help facilitate relationships 
and bring skilled professionals to great proj- 
ects! If you would like to be on this list, please 
send you name, contact information and brief 
bio (including current projects, specify narra- 
tive or doc) to: fsprogram@wmm.com. 



MICROCINEMA / SCREENING 
SERIES 

FILM AND VIDEO 825 Series of bi-monthly 
screenings of locally, nationally and interna- 
tionally recognized film and video artists' 
work, providing a forum for presenting 
experimental film and video in Los Angeles. 
In a city dominated by Hollywood, venues 
such as ours become a necessity for artists 
working in time-based media that is outside 
the mainstream of narrative cinema. Our 
curatorial vision is open to both shorts and 
features in experimental, performance, 
animation, and documentary forms. 
FilmA/ideo 825, Gallery 825/LAAA, 825 N. La 
Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069, T: 
(310) 652-8272, Fax: (310) 652-9251, 
gallery825@laaa.org, www.laaa.org/calen 
dar/film_video.html. 

ROOFTOP FILMS summer series is underway 
every Friday at the Automotive High School: 
50 Bedford Ave [at Lonmer, in Williamsburg 
Brooklyn] and Saturdays [through July 16th] 
on the roof of the Old American Can Factory 
at 232 3rd St. [Gowanus/Park Slopel. Special 
Shows Monday July 4 and Thursday August 
4. For information, please visit www.rooftop 
films.com or email Dan Nuxoll, programming 
director, at submit@rooftopflims.com. 

BROADCAST / CABLECAST 

THE DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL is a new digital 
cable channel dedicated to airing, exclusive- 
ly, the works of the independent documen- 
tary filmmaker. There isn't a single type of 
documentary that they will not show, and 
they are not afraid of controversy. That said, 
they prefer the edgier, more personal films 
that tell a story and that show something 
in a unique, visual manner. See the website 
for submission instructions. Submissions 
accepted on a rolling basis. Please visit 
http://documentarychannel.com/index.htm 
for more information or programs@docu 
mentarychannel.com. 



68 The Independent I July/August 2005 



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4TH ANNUAL BARE BONES SCRIPT-2-SCREEN 
FEST& SCREENWRITERS CONFERENCE in Tulsa, 
OK is looking for independent screenwriters 
& filmmakers to enter competition in variety 
of categories: feature screenplays & movies, 
short movies & screenplays, teleplays, trail- 
ers, doc, animation, actor monologues, 
Shoot 'N OK location micro-screenplay will 
get produced. Submission Deadline for the 
Festival, which will take place between 
October 13-16 is July 31, 2005. For more 
details email script2screenfest@yahoo.com 
or visit www.script2screenfilmfestival.com. 

6TH ANNUAL DV FILM FESTIVAL takes place 
December 2005 during the week of Digital 
Video Expo West in Los Angeles. Established 
in 2000, the DV Film Festival celebrates 
emerging talent by screening independent 
digital films with intriguing subject matter, 
robust scripts, and foresights that push the 
digital envelope. We only accept entries shot 
in digital video or high-definition formats. We 
do not accept entries that already have a the- 
atrical distribution deal in place. We do not 
accept works in progress. Feature entries 
must be AT LEAST 80 minutes in length. 
Short entries must be 15 MINUTES or less. 
Final selections will be exhibited at the 2005 
DV Film Festival held the week of DV Expo 
West 2005 in Los Angeles, California. For 
more info, see www.dvexpo.com/film fest/. 
Reduced fees for entries submitted by 1st 
August 2005. 

CELLULOID SOCIAL CLUB is a monthly screen 
ing series in Vancouver featuring the best in 
independent provocative short & feature 



films & videos followed by fun & frolic. 
Hosted by Ken Hegan at the ANZA Club, #3 
West 8th Ave., Vancouver, BC. No minors. 
Prizes galore. For more info call (604) 730- 
8090 or email celluloid@shaw.ca; 
www.CelluloidSocialClub.com. 

HORROR FILM CONTEST. The Hollywood 
Investigator seeks short & feature horror 
films for its annual NO ENTRY FEE contest. 
Deadline: mid-October. Films arriving after 
that are considered for next year's contest. 
Details: www.hollywoodinvestigator.com/tin 
sel/horrorcontest.htm www.hollywoodmves 
tigator.com/tinsel/horrorcontest.htm. 

OCULARIS provides a forum for film & video 
makers to exhibit their work at Brooklyn's 
Galapagos Art & Performance Space. All 
works are considered for programming in the 
weekly series, travelling programs & other 
special projects. Local film/video makers can 
submit works under 15 mm. to Open Zone, a 
quarterly open screening. Nat'l/int'l works & 
medium length works (15-45 mm.) will be 
considered for curated group shows. For sub- 
mission guidelines & other info, visit 
www.ocularis.net; shortfilms@ocularis.net. 

STREET MOVIES! is a year-round screening 
series presented by Philadelphia's Scribe 
Video Center. Free series tours Philly neigh- 
borhoods throughout the year & offers a pro- 
gram of indy cinema to the general public w/ 
a forum for dialogue. Prefer social issue, 
thought-provoking work of any genre or style 
as well as kid-friendly pieces. Must be under 
60 mins & will receive an honorarium if 



selected. Founded: 1997. Send 1/2" VHS 
or DVD w/ synopsis and contact info. Contact: 
Phil Rothberg, Program Coordinator; 215-222- 
4201 ; stmovies@scnbe.org; www.scribe.org. 

THE TERRURIDE STUDENT SYMPOSIUM is part 
of the Telluride Film Festival (Sept. 2-5) held 
in Telluride, CO and seeks "a cross-section of 
the college and university student population 
to attend a rigorous, free-form program of 
screenings and discussions of film." College 
students studying in any program major eligi- 
ble; only 50 students selected nationwide. 
Symposium participants awarded a $200 
stipend and entry into festival's opening night 
and other events. Travel, lodging, and other 
ancillary cost are not provided. Applicants 
must submit essay and one instructor or advi- 
sor recommendation. Late Deadline: July 1 5, 
2005. Please visit http://tellundefilmfesti 
val.com for more information. 

VERSUSMEDIA is seeking entries for their first 
ever "Film Versus Music" ten minute film 
short contest starting on June 1st. Just as 
the name says, we want this film short con- 
test to glorify the usage of music in film! It is 
our hope that this contest will help spread 
the benefit of musicians and filmmakers 
working together with a common goal, expo- 
sure. Usage of music in film can come from 
a wide range of film topics and genres, so we 
are not requiring a set theme to the film sub- 
missions. For further information regarding 
this contest, please visit the following web- 
page. www.versusmedia.com/contest.php. 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 69 







X 



1-800-611 -FILM • WWW.NYFA.COM 










— ONE YEAR PROGRAMS 

Directing for Film 

Acting for Film 

Screenwriting for Film and TV 

3-D Animation and Special Effects 

Producing for Film and TV 

HANDS-ON 1, 4, 6 AND 8 WEEK TOTAL IMMERSION PROGRAMS AVAILABLE AS WELL AS EVENINGS: 

DIRECTING • PRODUCING • ACTING FOR FILM • SCREENWRITING 
MUSIC VIDEOS • 3-D ANIMATION • DIGITAL FILMMAKING & EDITING 



NEW YORK CITY 
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS 
DISNEY-MGM STUDIOS* 



HARVARD UNIVERSITY 

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY* 

SUMMER FILMMAKING AND ACTING AT SEA* 



LONDON, ENGLAND 

FLORENCE, ITALY* 

PARIS, FRANCE* 



NEW VCCr PILM ACADEMY 



LONDON, ENGLAND 

King's College London 

26-29 Drury Lane, London WC2B 5RL 

tel 020-7848-1523 • fax 020-7848-1443 

email: filmuk@nyfa.com 



I FILM - VIDEO - PRO AUDIO 



NEW YORK CITY 

100 East 17th Street 

New York City 10003 

tel 212-674-4300 • fax 212-477-1414 

email: film@nyfa.com 



camp 



UNIVERSAL STUDIOS 

Gate 4, Barham Blvd., Lakeside Plaza 

Los Angeles, California 91608 

tel: 818-733-2600 • fax: 818-733-4074 

email: studios@nyfa.com 



■All workshops are solely owned and operated by the New York Film Academy and are not affiliated with Harvard University, Pnnceton University. Universal or Disney-MGM Studios. 'Summer only. 



THANK YOU 



The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 
(AIVF) provides a wide range of programs and services 
for independent moving image makers and the media 
community, including The Independent and a series of 
resource publications, seminars and workshops, infor- 
mation services, and arts and media policy advocacy. 

None of this work would be possible without the 
generous support of the AIVF membership and the 
following organizations: 

We also wish to thank the following individuals and 
organizational members: 





NYSCA 

O 

PBS 



City of New York Dept. of Cultural Affairs 

Discovery Wines 

Experimental Television Center Ltd. 

Forest Creatures Entertainment, Inc. 

Home Box Office 

The Jewish Communal Fund 

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 

The Nathan Cummings Foundation 

The National Endowment for the Arts 

New York State Council on the Arts 

The Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation 

PBS 

Yuengling Beer 



BUSINESS/INDUSTRY MEMBERS: AL: Cypress Moon Productions; 
AZ: Ascension Pictures; CA: Groovy Like a Movie; llluminaire 
Entertainment; SJPL Films, Ltd.; CO: Pay Reel; CT: Anvil 
Production; DC: Corporation for Public Broadcasting; FL: Key 
West Films Society; New Screen Broacasting; GA: Lab 601 Digital 
Post; IL: Shattering Paradigms Entertainment, LLC; MA: Exit One 
Productions; MD: NewsGroup, Inc.; TLF Limited Management; 
Ml: Logic Media LLC; NH: Kinetic Films; NY: Baraka Productions; 
Cypress Films; DeKart Video; Deutsch/Open City Films; 
Docurama; Forest Creatures Entertainment; getcast.com; 
Gigantic Brand; Harmonic Ranch; Lantern Productions; Larry 
Engel Productions Inc.; Lightworks Producing Group; Mad Mad 
Judy; Mercer Media; Missing Pixel; Off Ramp Films, Inc.; On the 
Prowl Productions; OVO; Possibilites Unlimited; Production 
Central; Range Post; Robin Frank Management; Rockbottom 
Entertainment, LLC; Triune Pictures; United Spheres Production; 
OR: Art Institute of Portland; Media Del'Arte; Rl: The Revival 
House; VA: Karma Communications Film & Video; WA: Sound 
Wise; Two Dogs Barking; Singapore: Crimson Forest Films 

NONPROFIT MEMBERS: AR: Henderson State University; 
AZ: Pan Left Productions; CA: Bay Area Video Coalition; California 
Newsreel; Everyday Gandhis Project; Film Arts Foundation; 
International Buddhist Film Festival; NAATA/Media Fund; NALIP; 
Sundance Institute; USC School of Cinema and TV; CO: Denver 
Center Media; Free Speech TV: CT: Hartley Film Foundation; DC: 
American University School of Communication; CINE; FL: Miami 
International Film Festival; University of Tampa; GA: Image Film 
and Video Center; HI: Pacific Islanders in Communications; IL: Art 
Institute of Chicago (Video Data Bank); Community Television 
Network; Department of Communication/NLU; Kartemquin Films; 
IN: Fort Wayne Cinema Center; KY: Appalshop; MA: CCTV; 
Documentary Educational Resources; Harvard University, 
OsCLibrary; LTC; MD: Laurel Cable Network; Silverdocs: AFI 
Discovery Channel Doc Festival; ME: Maine Photographic 
Workshop; Ml: Ann Arbor Film Festival; MN: IFP/MSP; Walker Art 
Center; MO: dhTV; Webster University Film Series; NC: 
Broadcasting/Cinema; Calcalorus Film Foundation; Duke 
University, Film & Video Dept.; NE: Nebraska Independent Film 
Project/AIVF Salon Lincoln; NJ: Black Maria Film Festival; Capriole 
Productions; Freedom Film Society, Inc.; Princeton University, 
Program in Visual Arts; NM: Girls Film School; University of New 



Mexico; NY: ActNow Productions; Arts Engine; Cornell Cinema; 
Council for Positive Images, Inc.; Creative Capital Foundation; 
Crowing Rooster Arts; Dutchess Community College Student 
Activites; Educational Video Center; Experimental TV Center; Film 
Forum; Film Society of Lincoln Center; Firelight Media; 
International Film Seminars; LMC-TV; Manhattan Neighborhood 
Network; National Black Touring Circuit; National Black 
Programming Consortium; National Musuem of the American 
Indian; National Video Resources; New York University, Cinema 
Studies; New York Women in Film and Television; Parnassus 
Works; POV/The American Documentary; RIT School of Film and 
Animation; Squeaky Wheel; Standby Program; Stonestreet 
Studios Film and TV Acting Workshop; Stony Brook Film Festival; 
Syracuse University; United Community Centers; Upstate Films, 
Ltd.; Witness; Women Make Movies; OH: Athens Center for Film 
And Video; Independent Pictures/AIVF Ohio Salon; Media Bridges 
Cincinatti; School of Film, Ohio University; Wexner Center; OR: 
Northest Film Center; The Oregon Film & Video Foundation; PA: 
American INSIGHT, Inc.; American Poetry Center; Philadelphia 
Independent Film & Video Assoc. (PIFVA); TeamChildren.com; Rl: 
Flickers Arts Collaborative; SC: Department of Art, University of 
South Carolina; South Carolina Arts Commission; TX: Austin Film 
Society; Southwest Alternate Media Project; UT Sundance 
Institute; WA: Seattle Central Community College; Canada: Banff 
Centre Library; France: The Carmago Foundation 

FRIENDS OF AIVF: Angela Alston, Sabina Maja Angel, Tom 
Basharm, Aldo Bello, David Bemis, Doug Block, Liz Canner, Hugo 
Cassirer, Williams Cole, Anne del Castillo, Arthur Dong, Martin 
Edelstein, Esq., Aaron Edison, Paul Espinosa, Karen Freedman, 
Lucy Garrity, Norman Gendelman, Debra Granik, Catherine Gund, 
Peter Gunthel, David Haas, Kyle Henry, Lou Hernandez, Lisa 
Jackson, John Kavanaugh, Stan Konowitz, Leonard Kurz, Lyda 
Kuth, Steven Lawrence, Bart Lawson, Regge Life, Juan 
Mandelbaum, Diane Markrow, Tracy Mazza, Leonard McClure, 
Daphne McDuffie-Tucker, Jim McKay, Michele Meek, Robert 
Millis, Robert Millis, Richard Numeroff, Elizabeth Peters, Laura 
Poitras, Robert Richter, Hiroto Saito, Larry Sapadin, James 
Schamus, John Schmidt, Nat Segaloff, Robert Seigel, Gail Silva, 
Innes Smolansky, Barbara Sostanc, Alexander Spencer, Miriam 
Stern, George Stoney, Rhonda Leigh Tanzman, Rahdi Taylor, Karl 
Trappe, Jane Wagner, Bart Weiss 



July/August 2005 I The Independent 71 



THE LIST 



SURPASSING SUBTITLES 

By Lindsay Gelfand 

How and why do foreign films feel and look different than American films? 



"I believe it has to do with language. Different languages 
create different thought processes in every culture. When these 
cultures speak the universal cinematic language — image and 
sound — each filmmaker from their respective culture uses these 
elements in a different way to tell a story." 

— Josh Hyde, writer/director, Chicle 

"First of all, foreign films are a misnomer and can't be 
lumped into a single category Indian cinema is different from 
Hong Kong cinema. ..and on and on. There is no single way in 
which foreign cinema is aesthetically different from American 
cinema. Foreign films, like American films, exist to entertain, 
inspire, and communicate — all of which are important to an 
individuals consciousness." 

— Ari Krepostman, producer, 
Cineminutes: Ten Takes on New York 

"I believe a movie is not [necessarily] from the country where 
it was shot, but from the people that made it. I believe a film or 
any other work of art will always have something from the place 
that the people that made it are from. The language is the first 
thing that grounds a film to a specific place, but also the humor, 
the way people talk, the way the characters approach situations, 
love, fear, death, family. For example, I love the family relation- 
ships in Danish movies, or the dark humor and irony in which 
Mexican films deal with death. Audiences can always relate to 
universal ideas, but it will always feel different the way they are 
approached in different cultures. The context, even if it's in the 
little details gives local flavor to films, like the clothes, the cars, 
the buildings. But in the end, all good movies deal with univer- 
sal concepts that anyone anywhere in the world can relate to." 
— Bernardo Loyola, writer/director/editor, The Perfect Day 

"I think that foreign films understand film as art, therefore 



the attention to formal aesthetics is greater than that in North 
American films." 

— Marta Sanchez, filmmaker/curator 

"The most prevalent distinction [between foreign and 
American films] that I observe is with the use of cinematic 
language in dealing with space and time that creates a kind of 
displacement in the overall experience. As a foreigner feeling in 
cultural exile, I am at home with this kind of 'otherness.' 
Whether emerging from inside the United States (culturally for- 
eign) or outside (geographically foreign), aesthetic 'foreignness' 
can represent a form of resistance to the homogenizing nature 
of market-driven cinematic culture." 

— Louise Bourque, filmmaker, 
L 'eclat du mallThe Bleeding Heart of It 

"To me, ideally foreign film is the embodiment of other 
voices and vision. And what you see and hear in foreign films is 
mostly a matter of difference in pace and tone, and a different 
way of telling — the films not only sound and look different, they 
feel different. 

Aside from the obvious differences in choice of subject matter 
and perspective that come from a different culture, foreign films 
seem to differ from American films aesthetically in that they are 
less presentational. By this, I mean that [the films and filmmak- 
ers] feel less obligated to show the audience everything that is 
happening on screen. They might frame the back of a man's neck 
rather than his face, allow the actors to fall under shadow, or use 
sound rather than picture to communicate events. Perhaps this is 
related to American cinema's theatrical heritage and the idea of 
the proscenium. Of course, there are always exceptions, and now 
we have American directors like Gus Van Sant echoing the 
techniques of the Dardenne brothers." 

— Sasie Sealy, director, Dance Mania Fantastic 



72 The Independent I July/August 2005 



.the invaluable Occupation: Dreamland ... an eerie portrait of a city quietly about to explode and an unnervingly intimate look 
at eight young soldiers that accords their individuality due scrutiny." -Dennis Lim, Village Voice 

...a sympathetic look at the average Joe doing duty in hell -- as well as a sharp indictment of the Pentagon's cavalier support 

for the troops." --Jay Weisberg, Variety 

"A poignant and haunting portrait of a platoon of U.S. soldiers trying to maintain order in Fallujah..." 
-Christopher Kelly, Fort Worth Star-Telegram 




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Volume 28 Number 7 

Cover: Actor Ryan Gosling (Tony Barson/Wirelmage.com) 



Contents 



Upfront 



5 EDITOR'S LETTER 

6 CONTRIBUTORS 

8 MEMBERS IN THE NEWS 

9 NEWS 

Nollywood rises; a film school helps students find 
jobs; City Lights launches finance branches 
By Nicholas Boston 

12 UTILIZE IT 

Tools and news you can use 
By David Aim 

13 PRODUCTION JOURNAL 

Director Kyle Henry explains the highs and lows 
of making a cheap thriller called Room 
By Kyle Henry 

16 PROFILE 

Go-Kart's Will Keenan becomes a businessman 
By Gadi Harel 

20 DOC DOCTOR 

Calculating the need for archival footage; 
best classes for mid-career filmmakers 
By Fernanda Rossi 

22 FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 

The Black-Eyed Susans Film Festival 
By Kathy Y. Wilson 

25 FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 

The Silverdocs Summit 
By Rania Richardson 

28 ON THE SCENE 

Open Zone: Brooklyn's creative screening series 
By Katherine Dykstra 

32 Q/A 

Actor Ryan Gosling's paradoxical roles 
By Rebecca Carroll 



Features 



36 LOOKING FOR FUNDS 

IN ALL THE POSSIBLE PLACES 

The current state of independent film financing 
By Derek Loosvelt 

40 PICTURE'S UP 

The thing about Picturehouse's Bob Berney 
By Ethan Alter 

44 NETFLIX 

...and the afterlife of indies 
By Elizabeth Angell 

48 EYES WIDE OPEN 

Cynthia Lopez — P.O.V.'s master marketer 
By Kate Bernstein 

52 BOOKS 

A new biography of Spike Lee 
Bv Linda Chavers 



Listings 



54 NOTICES 
58 WORK WANTED 
60 FESTIVALS 
66 CLASSIFIEDS 

71 THANKS 

72 THE LIST 



www.aivf.org 



September 2005 I The Independent 3 




THE 

in 




FILM ANO VIDEO MONTH LI 



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Publisher: Bienvenida Matias 

[publisher@aivf.org] 

Editor-in-Chief: Rebecca Carroll 

[editor@aivf.org] 

Managing Editor: Shana Liebman 

[independent@aivf.org] 

Associate Editor: Katherine Dykstra 

[fact@aivf org] 

Designer: R. Benjamin Brown 

[benbrowngraphic@msn.com) 

Production Associate: Timothy Schmidt 

[graphics@aivf.org] 

Editorial Associate: Lindsay Gelfand 

[notices@aivf.org] 

Contributing Editors: 

Sherman Alexie, David Aim, Pat Aufderheide, 

Monique Cormier, Bo Mehrad, Cara Men.es, Kate Turtle 

Contributing Writers: 

Elizabeth Angell, Margaret Coble, Lisa Selin Davis, 

Matt Dunne, Gadi Harel, Rick Harrison 

Advertising Representative: Veronica Shea 

(2121 807-1400 x232. [veronica@aivf.org] 

Advertising Representative: Michael Tierno 

(212) 807-1400 x234, [mike@aivf.org] 

Classified Advertising: Michael Tierno 

(212) 807-1400 x241; [classifieds@aivf.org] 

• 

National Distribution: 

Ingram Periodicals (800) 627-6247 



POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: 

The Independent 
304 Hudson St., 6 fl., New York, NY 10013 

The Independent (ISSN 1077-8918) is published monthly (except 
combined issues January/February and July/August) by the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film (FIVF), a 501(c)(3) 
dedicated to the advancement of media arts and artists. 
Subscription to the magazine is included in annual membership 
dues ($70/yr individual, $40/yr student: $200/yr nonprofit/school: 
$200-700/yr business/industry) paid to the Association of 
Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF), the national profes- 
sional association of individuals involved in moving image media. 
Library subscriptions are $75/yr Contact: AIVF, 304 Hudson St., 
6 fl., New York, NY 10013, (212) 807-1400: fax: (212) 463-8519: 
info@aivf org. 

Periodical Postage paid at New York, New York 
and at additional mailing offices. 

Printed in the USA by Cadmus Specialty Publications 



»y Publication of The Independent is made possible 
^^ in part with public funds from the New York State 
SETS Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the National 
Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. 

Publication of any ad in The Independent does not constitute an 
endorsement. AIVF/FIVF are not responsible for any claims made in 
an ad All contents are copyright of the Foundation for Independent 
Video and Film, Inc. Reprints require written permission and acknowl- 
edgement of the article's previous appearance in The Independent 
The Independent is indexed in the Alternative Press Index and is a 
member of the Independent Press Association 

AIVF/FIVF staff' Bienvenida Matias, executive director; Sean 
Shodahl, program director; Priscilla Grim, membership director; Bo 
Mehrad, information services director; Fred Grim, technology con- 
sultant; Katia Maguire Anas, Christopher Bartone. Kara Oi Pietro, 
Rabecca Hoffman, Claro de los Reyes, interns, AIVF/FIVF legal coun- 
sel: Robert I. Freedman, Esq , Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & 
Sheppard. 

AIVF Board of Directors Joel Bachar, Paula Manley (Secretary), 
Bienvenida Matias (ex oficio), Simon Tarr (Chair/Treasurer), Elizabeth 
Thompson (President), Bart Weiss 

© Foundation for Independent Video & Film, Inc. 2005 
Visit The Independent online at: www.aivf.org 



4 The Independent I September 2005 




EDITOR'S LETTER 



Dear Readers, 

Although by the time this issue is in 
your hands and on the stands I will be 
back at work (because we operate on a 
two-month lead time and I'm writing 
this in July), I do want to let you know 
that Shana Liebman, The Independent's 
most exceptional managing editor, 
stepped in for me to edit the October 
issue while I was on maternity leave 
through the summer. In addition to her 
work with The Independent, Shana is also 
the arts editor at Heeb magazine, for 
which she runs a bimonthly storytelling 
series at Joe's Pub in New York City, as 
well as a freelance writer whose work has 
appeared in New York magazine, the New 
York Observer, Salon, and the Village 
Voice. I was delighted to leave the maga- 
zine in her hands and am confident that 
we will see a fantastic October issue. 

For this issue, we looked at the great 
(and growing) Goliath of independent 
film finance and marketing. Frequent 
contributor Derek Loosvelt talked to pro- 
ducers and filmmakers about what it real- 
ly takes to make an independent film you 
can feel proud of, that doesn't feel rushed 
or compromised — and, of course, where 
and how to find the money to do that 
without going into personal debt straight 
out of the gate. Producer Alexis 
Alexanian of Elixir Films emphasizes the 
importance of filmmakers taking their 
time: "People are jumping in too 
early... A solid foundation is essential," 
she says. While producer Maggie Renzi, 



who has produced well over a dozen films 
including most of those made by John 
Sayles, agrees: "With so many self-fund- 
ed films, producers and distributors have 
so much product to choose from that 
they don't think they have to get in [on 
the financing] early." (page 36) 

Can Bob Berney be stopped? Is he just 
going to keep churning out one insanely 
well-marketed independent film after 
another? What's his secret? Ethan Alter, 
new to The Independent, talked with 
Berney and some of the folks who have 
worked with him. From what Alter was 
able to gather, it doesn't seem that Berney 
has a secret so much as just a God-given 
talent for spotting great films and getting 
them seen, which seems kind of unfair but 
also slightly awe-inspiring too (page 40). 

It may seem like part of the marketing 
theme to put a good looking actor on the 
cover, but Ryan Gosling is, at 25, already 
a veteran actor of independent films — 
starting with his eerily riveting and pitch 
perfect performance in The Believer 
(2001), followed by tour-de-force per- 
formances in The Slaughter Rule (2002) 
and The United States of Le 'land (2003). 
Next month he appears in Stay, directed 
by Marc Forster {Monster's Ball, 2001), 
and written by David Benioff (25th 
Hour, 2002). I sat down to talk with 
Ryan during the 4th of July weekend, in 
Brooklyn — where he was filming another 
independent, Half Nelson, with directors 
Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, whose 
short film Gowanus, Brooklyn, on which 
Half Nelson is based, took home the 
Grand Jury Prize for short filmmaking at 
Sundance 2004. 

Also in this issue, Linda Chavers 
reviews a new book about Spike Lee and 
40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, Kate 
Bernstein profiles the remarkable 
Cynthia Lopez of P.O.V., and Elizabeth 
Angell gets the back story on Netflix. 

Enjoy and thanks for reading 
The Independent, 
Rebecca Carroll 



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Contrib 




ETHAN ALTER is a New York-based 
film critic and journalist whose work has 
appeared in a variety of publications, 
including Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, 
and FHM. He regularly reviews movies for 
Film Journal International and Cineman 
Syndicate, as well as on his website, 
www.nycfilmcritic.com. 

DAVID ALM teaches film history and 
writing at two colleges in Chicago. His writ- 
ing has appeared in ArtByte, Camerawork, 
RES, Silicon Alley Reporter, SOMA, and The 
Utne Reader. He's also contributed to books 
on web design and digital filmmaking, and 
assisted in making documentaries about 
architecture and garbage. 

ELIZABETH ANGELL is a freelance 
writer living in New York. She recently 
received an MFA in creative writing from 
Columbia and is at work on her first book. 

KATE BERNSTEIN is a television 
producer who has created programming 
for Bravo, VH1, Metro TV, and Channel 
4 UK. She has written about film, music, 
and popular culture for a variety of maga- 
zines. Her short film, Ladies Room, was 
recently released on DVD by Indican 
Pictures. Kate received her BA from 
Swarthmore College and her MA from 
NYU, both in cinema studies. She was 
born in Moscow, Russia and raised in 
Brooklyn, New York. 

NICHOLAS BOSTON is a frequent 
contributor to The Independent. He is an 
assistant professor of journalism and mass 
communications at Lehman College of 




the City University of New York and 
appears regularly on various media as a 
commentator, most recently NBC 
Channel 4, New York 

LINDA CHAVERS graduated from 
^^^^^^^^^^^ New York 
i^^ University 

^^^L one year ago 

B and is a bud- 

*|^^ ?^Pt. ~ ^' n 8 freelance 

WmSw ^JEl* writer and 

cube monkey 
at The New York Times Magazine. She has 
written for Publishers Weekly, Paper maga- 
zine and does regular book reviewing for 
NewPages.com. She is also a volunteer 
with SAVI Advocates, a sexual assault and 
domestic violence program in New York 
City. Check out www.northamerican 
negro.blogspot.com. 

KATHERINE DYKSTRA, The 
Independents associate editor, is also a 
contributor at The New York Post and a 
freelance writer and editor. Her work 
has appeared in Time Out New York, 
Fodor's travel guides, Redbook, and 
Ironminds.com. She is a recent graduate 
of The New School University's nonfic- 
tion MFA program. And she spends 
Wednesday afternoons teaching creative 
writing to the coolest kids in Harlem. 

GADI HAREL is an award-winning 
filmmaker and writer living in Los 
Angeles. In addition to The Independent, 
his writing has appeared in InStyle and 
The New York Observer. To learn more 
about his latest project, check out 
www.modernconman.com. 



6 The Independent I September 2005 



utors 




KYLE HENRY has directed two feature 
docs: American Cowboy, a 1998 Student 
Academy Award winner, and 1999s 
University, Inc. about the corporatization of 
the largest university in America, which 
played at over 75 colleges, museums, and 
media arts centers as part of the 
McCollege Tour — underwritten in part by 
filmmakers Michael Moore and Richard 
Linklater. His short N.ew York Casino 
won Best Experimental Short at SXSW in 
2003 and toured international museum/ 
arts centers as part of the Black Maria Film 
& Video Festival, Un-American, and 
Itinerant Cinema tours. Room, his feature 
debut, had its national premiere at 
Sundance and international premiere at 
The Director's Fortnight of Cannes this 
year. He is also a working editor of such 
films as Manito, Troop 1500: Girl Scouts 
Behind Bars, and Learning to Swallow. 

DEREK LOOSVELT is a writer and 
editor living in Brooklyn. He holds a BS 
in economics from the University of 
Pennsylvania and an MFA in creative 
writing from The New School. 

RANIA RICHARDSON is a New 
York-based freelance writer who focuses 
on independent film. She is the editor of 
the AIVF Guide to Film & Video 
Distributors. She began her career at Time 
magazine in the production of interna- 
tional editions and has worked in theatri- 
cal film distribution for foreign and inde- 
pendent pictures. 



FERNANDA ROSSI, known as the 
Documentary Doctor, is a filmmaker and 
story consultant who helps filmmakers 
craft the story structure of their films in all 
stages of the filmmaking process. She has 
doctored over 100 documentaries and fic- 
tion scripts and is the author of Trailer 
Mechanics: A Guide to Making Your 
Documentary Fundraising Trailer. For more 
info: www.documentarydoctor.com. 

KATHY Y. WILSON has been 
Cincinnati's Sapphire-in-residence since 
the race riots of 2001. 
Wilson's award-win- 
ning, now-defunct 
column "Your Negro 
Tour Guide" (now 
collected in Your 
Negro Tour Guide: 
Truths in Black and 
White, 2004, Emmis 
Books), and her 
National Public Radio 
commentaries on "All 
Things Considered" 
put the city — and 
now the nation — on notice. She is a 
senior writer and editor for CityBeat, 
Cincinnati's alternative newsweekly. Her 
poems and columns have been published 
by On the One, Newsday, and Shelterforce. 
The Ohio Associated Press, the 
Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, 
the Society of Profess-ional Journalists, 
and the Knight Center for Specialized 
Journalism at the University of Maryland 
have all honored her work. Her next 
book is a mediation on black fathers and 
daughters called The Pimp in the 
Background. 




Correction: The first paragraph of 
Sasie Sealy's response in "The List" in 
the July/August issue should have 
been attributed to Louise Bourque. 
We apologize for this mistake. 




Czech Dream by Vit Klusak, Filip Remunda, Czech 
Republic. Golden Gate Award, Best Documentary 
Feature (SFIFF 2005). 



SF INTL FILM 

FESTIVAL NO. 49 

APRIL 20-MAY 4, 2006 

CALL FOR 

ENTRIES 

ENTER0NLINEWWW.SFFS.ORG 



The San Francisco International Film Festival, 
committed to celebrating the art of the 
moving image, has presented the best in 
world cinema since 1957. 

Golden Gate Awards 
Competition 

Cash and in-kind prizes and awards in 1 4 
categories for documentaries, shorts, 
animation, experimental, youth-produced and 
television works. For info: gga@sffs.org. 

Narrative Feature Entries 

First features eligible for $10,000 Skyy Prize. 
For info: programming@sffs.org. 

Audience awards for documentary and 
narrative features. 

DEADLINES 

PRIMARY 

5:00 pm PST, Friday, November 1 1 , 2005 

FINAL 

5:00 pm PST, Friday, December 9, 2005 

SAN FRANCISCO 
FILM SOCIETY 

39 Mesa Street, Suite 110 
The Presidio 

San Francisco, CA 94129 USA 
FAX: 415-561-5099 



September 2005 I The Independent 7 



JONATHAN SKURNICK 

Filmmaker 

Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts 

Member Since: 1995 

Jonathan Skurnik's documentary short 
The Elevator Operator (2004) screened at 
Maryland Film Festival's opening night 
series of short docs in May, played at New 
York City's Exit Art in Hell's Kitchen as part 
of their "Other America" show in March 
and April, and screened at IFP's Buzz Cuts 
in March. Skurnik recently wrote and 
directed his first dramatic short film 
and was awarded a month-long 
screenwriting fellowship at the 
Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow in 
Eureka Springs, Arkansas in April 
and May Skurnik and Jeff Shames's 
documentary short, Spit It Out 
(2004), about stutterer Jeff Shames' 
journey of self acceptance, won 
awards in 2005 at North America's 
two most important disabilities 
film festivals: Picture This in 
Alberta, Canada, and Superrest 
in Berkeley, California. 



January, 2001, and went on to receive three 
Independent Spirit Award nominations, 
including the coveted John Cassavetes 
Award. About the film, Stephen Holden of 
The New York Times wrote, "...mercilessly 
gritty... [with] scenes so real they hurt." 
Hart Sharp Video recently released Acts of 
Worship on DVD, which is currently on the 
Amazon.com recommended list. 




BILL LICHTENSTEIN 
Lichtenstein Creative Media 
Cambridge, Massachusetts 
Member Since: 2004 

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial 
Foundation has named Bill Lichtenstein a 
2005 Guggenheim Fellow. Lichtenstein is 
president of the Peabody Award-winning 
Lichtenstein Creative Media, a 
Cambridge-based independent media 
production company that works in 
film, TV, and radio. LCM's produc- 
tions, which include the National 
Public Radio series, "The 
Infinite Mind," focus on 
health, human rights, and 
other social issues. 

ABIGAIL CHILD 

Filmmaker 

New York, New York 

Member Since: 2001 



MICHAEL CAPLAN 
Montrose Pictures 
Chicago, Illinois 
Member Since: 1992 



Members 

in the news 



Michael Caplan's personal 
documentary Stones from the Soil premiered 
in over 70 markets on PBS this May. The 
film explores the impact of Gross Breesen, a 
Jewish school in 1930s Germany that saved 
150 Jewish teenagers from the Holocaust, 
including Caplan's own father, Rudolph. 
The younger Caplan is working with a con- 
sultant to develop a curriculum to accom- 
pany the film. He plans to target it to the 
educational market, "starting with, but not 
exclusively, Jewish schools and community 
organizations and synagogues." 

ROSEMARY RODRIGUEZ 

Filmmaker 

New York, New York 

Member Since: 1996 

Rosemary Rodriguez wrote, directed, 
and produced Acts of Worship, which pre- 
miered at the Sundance Film Festival in 



DON BERNIER 
Mimetic Media 
Brooklyn, New York 
Member Since: 1999 

Don Bernier's documentary In a 
Nutshell: A Portrait of Elizabeth Tashjian 
received a NYSCA distribution grant in 
June. After screening at the Slamdance Film 
Festival in January, Nutshell went on to 
screen at several other festivals throughout 
the year including the Independent Film 
Festival of Boston, the Maryland Film 
Festival in Baltimore, the San Francisco 
Documentary Film Festival, and the Los 
Angeles Film Festival. The film's subject, the 
Nut Lady was featured in the "Talk of the 
Town" section of the April 18, 2005 issue of 
The New Yorker. 



Abigail Child has been 
accepted as a 2005-2006 
fellow at the Radclilfe 
Institute for Advanced 
Study at Harvard 

University, where she will 
work on her film, The 
Suburban Trilogy: Part 3 
"Surf -v Turf 



And, finally, the following AIVF mem- 
bers/filmmakers are recipients of the 2005 
$50,000 Pew Fellowships, granted to thir- 
teen Philadelphia-based artists. 

BARBARA ATTIE 

Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania 

Member Since: 1991 

JANET GOLDWATER 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
Member Since: 2001 

CHERYL HESS 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
Member Since: 1995 

FILMON MEBRAHTU 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
Member Since: 2004 



8 The Independent I September 2005 



www.aivf.org 



BUSINESS REPLY MAIL 



FIRST-CLASS MAIL 



PERMIT NO. 6990 



NEW YORK NY 



POSTAGE WILL BE PAID BY ADDRESSEE 



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NEWS 

Nollywood Rising 

The Nigerian film industry convenes for progress 



By Nicholas Boston 

Film industries around the world 
seem fated to endure comparison, if 
in name only, to Hollywood. India's 
flamboyant silver-screen capital Bombay 
(now Mumbai) is credited with being the 
worlds second largest producer of films, 
hence dubbed "Bollywood." Now in 
Nigeria, the rapidly expanding digital- 
video motion picture business, producing 
over 300 titles a year with huge commer- 
cial success across Africa and among 
Nigerian diasporics in the United States, 
has acquired its own emulative moniker: 
"Nollywood." 

From June 13 through 17, the first 
annual convention devoted to the 
Nigerian commercial film industry 
"Nollywood Rising," took place at the 
Hilton Los Angeles in Universal City. The 
event, organized by Nigerian-born profes- 
sors in the departments of art history and 
film studies at the University of California 
Santa Barbara, brought Nigerian filmmak- 
ers into contact with American distribu- 
tors, investors, and fellow independent 
filmmakers. Director John Singleton {Boys 
in the Hood, 1991; Shaft, 2000) was a spe- 
cial guest. Though roughly hall the speak- 
ers present were academics fascinated by 
the phenomenon itself. 

"This is a pan-African ideal at this point 
in time," says organizer Dr. Sylvester 
Ogbechie, a professor of art history. 
"Nigeria is the largest black nation in the 
world and the only film industry in the 
world controlled by black people, where 
black people green-light the productions 




Convention attendees (l-r) Judy Pace, Akosua Busia, Sylvester Ogbechie, Unidentified, Beverly 
Todd, and Segun Oyekunle (courtesy of Sylvester Ogbechie) 

and have full say in distribution. It is rein- "Nollywood films have become a 
vigorating the diaspora and holds enor- dominant media form all over the 
mous potential for black populations African continent, certainly in all 
internationally." Anglophone countries — Kenya, Sierra 
The roots of Nollywood stretch back to Leone, South Africa — and are beginning 
1992 when Chris Obi-Rapu, an aspiring to cross over into Francophone Africa 
filmmaker with modest resources, released despite language barriers," says Dr. Brian 
a home video production called Living in Larkin, an anthropologist at Columbia 
Bondage. The film drew unexpected University and guest speaker at the con- 
enthusiasm from the general public and vention. Larkin reported that while hard 
triggered a trend in moviemaking on and fast numbers are difficult to ascer- 
video. A cottage industry took off at the tain, attendees at the convention deliv- 
endof the 1990s when films sold in locales ered strong anecdotal evidence of the 
as informal as market stalls began to be films' proliferation. "The producer 
exported to other countries in Africa. Charles Igwe said at the conference that 
Informal estimates place annual profits at 600,000 Video Compact Disks (VCD) 
$300 million. are pressed every day in Lagos and that 



September 2005 I The Independent 9 



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crates and crates leave on planes every 
day for all over Africa," he says. 

The movies' storylines often involve 
sorcery and include images or references to 
ritual sacrifices. In 2002, a New York Times 
correspondent reporting from Nolly- 
wood's epicenter in the Surulere district of 
Lagos, noted that one breakthrough film, 
/ Hate My Village, dealt with cannibalism; 
promotional material for the film shows 
the lead actor chewing on what was sup- 
posed to be human flesh. Debate arose at 
the conference over the admissibility of 
these types of images. Most of the 
Nigerian filmmakers and producers 
brushed off criticism that such images 
might be offensive, saying audiences in 
Nigeria are genuinely interested in these 
themes. "We possess the Nigerian audi- 
ence. There is no question about that," 
Igwe reportedly stated. 

In an interview, Mahen Bonetti, executive 
director of the African Film Festival and a 
convention speaker, noted the extensive 
diversity of themes across the Nollywood 
repertoire. She said that depending on the 
area of Nigeria in which a film is made, sto- 
rylines can range from "song and dance, all 
love, love, love," to "allegoric and stagy," to 
"the melodramatic telenovela... there are 
many, many sub-genres." 

And what of Nollywood's crossover 
appeal in the American market? "Africans 
should not be chasing Hollywood," says 
Bonetti. "Hollywood is going to come to 
us." Bonetti and others point to the main 
element that sets Nollywood apart from 
other movie-making industries: technology. 

"Iranian cinema, Indian cinema, they all 
make their first cuts in celluloid," she says. 
"The Nigerians are making straight-to- 
video productions. That makes a big differ- 
ence." There are an estimated 57 million 
households with video players in Nigeria, 
compared to a negligible number of movie 
theatres. "Home viewing in Nigeria and 
many other African countries is almost on 
par with cinema attendance," confirmed 
Ogbechie, noting that pre-Nollywood 
African cinema tended to be "auteur film- 
making" that was expensive to produce, 
and ended up screening almost exclusively 
at film festivals outside of Africa. 

All attendees to the convention agreed 
that the downside to the accessibility and 
speedy production-to-release cycle of 



Nollywood films is their low production 
value. Sound quality is notoriously poor. 
The convention addressed this issue by 
concluding with a series of technology 
workshops and plans to revisit the concern 
during future conventions. "Next year, we 
will focus more on the practice," Ogbechie 
said. "Instead of the theory of the practice." 

I Want My SFTV 

Film schools are always trying to find 
ways to not only technically and creatively 
prepare students for jobs in the industry, 
but to help them get those jobs, as well. 
What's the use of providing a sound 
education in movie-making if, after 
graduation, your students are interviewing 
at Target? 

Loyola Marymount University School 
of Film and Television (SFTV), which is 
quickly becoming a popular film school, 
has launched a new office of external 
affairs, headed by two accomplished 
industry insiders: Peter Heller as director, 
and Kathleen Mclnnis — in a seat created 
just for her — as film festival specialist. 

But considering that many graduate 
film schools suffer a high-intentions-low- 
results method of career placement, the 
question arises: What exactly does this 
new office aim to accomplish? 

SFTV's choice of Heller and Mclnnis is 
a good start. Heller, a veteran independent 
producer and manager, comes to SFTV 
after operating his own firm, Heller 
Highwater Productions. His producing 
credits include Like Mike (2002) for 20th 
Century Fox, starring Bow Wow and 
Morris Chestnut, and Brown Sugar (2002) 
for Fox Searchlight, starring Taye Diggs, 
Sanaa Lathan, Queen Latifah, and Mos 
Def. Heller's management client list 
includes writers Danny Rubin {Ground 
Hog Day, 1993), Christian McLaughlin 
("Clueless" TV series, 1996), and Brandon 
Sonnier, ( The Beat, 2003) — the youngest 
director to premiere a film at the 
Sundance Film Festival. What he brings to 
the table, he says, is meat for the masses: "I 
know that the industry is always hungry 
for new voices." 

Kathleen Mclnnis is the former director 
of the Slamdance Film Festival — inten- 
tionally smaller and more populous than 
Sundance — which in its 1 1 years has 
increasingly attracted major producers and 



10 The Independent I September 2005 






distributors looking for fresh talent. True 
to the mission of external affairs, Mclnnis 
will divide her time between "festival spe- 
cializing" at SFTV and serving on jury 
panels for festivals at Galway, Seattle, and 
Toronto. 

"This office is absolutely unique, it 
doesn't exist anywhere else in academia," 
Mclnnis says. "In this truly competitive 
industry, an extra advantage... can mean 
the difference between a career making 
films or just a career." 

City Lights 

City Lights Media Group, the 22-year- 
old film production company founded 
and run by brothers Danny, Jack, and Joe 
Fisher, is entering the numbers game. The 
company recently announced the launch 
of a private equity unit, City Lights 
Pictures Film Fund, to acquire, develop, 
and finance motion pictures. 

"We see a fantastic opportunity in the 
marketplace right now," says Danny 
Fisher, CEO of the New York City-based 
outfit. "There are very few industry 
sources to go to for financing. Our own 
financing gives us the leverage to partici- 
pate in the very best projects, and there are 
many independent films out there that are 
deserving of financing." 

The fund will have three financing divi- 
sions: City Lights Pictures for budgets from 
$3-$ 12 million, City Lights 3000 for films 
with a $1 million ceiling, and City Lights 
Uptown (with Wu-Tang Clan co-founder 
Oliver "Power" Grant as executive produc- 
er and former Martin Luther King, Jr. 
speechwriter Clarence B. Jones as advisor) 
for projects aimed at the urban market. 

Despite the new funding unit, the com- 
pany will continue producing films — 
including the supernatural thriller 
Tamara, from Final Destination (2000) 
creator Jeffrey Reddick, to be released by 
Lions Gate later this year and the upcom- 
ing Nicholas Ray biopic, Interrupted. 

"We are ramping up all of our activities 
in our other divisions, and have recently 
opened a sound record/mix facility as well 
as an L.A. office for our TV company," 
Fisher says. "We believe in an integrated 
company with various components all 
working together and supporting each 
other. We feel that makes our company 
unique in the industry." "& 



James A. Michener Center for Writers 



^J^&jSe^04? J~U+& 




DIRECTOR 
James Magnuson 



Combine work in 
with fiction, 
poetry or playwriting in our unique 
interdisciplinary MFA degree program. 
Students arc fully funded by 
annual fellowships of $17,500. 

512/471.1601 • www.utexas.edu/academic/mcw 

RECENT GUEST SCREENWRITERS 

William Broyles • Tim McCanlies • Mark Medoff 
Anne Rapp • Steven Soderbergh • F.d Solomon 

THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN 




Independent Narrative 
Filmmakers and Their Films 

On THE BEAUTIFUL KoHALA COAST OF HAWAIl! 




Big 

Island 

Film 

festival 






• Independent Narrative Films 

• Filmmaker Symposiums 

• Parties 

• Beautiful Beaches 

• World Class Resorts 

• Great Weather 

• Spirit of Aloha 



Call for entries - deadline: March i, 2006 
www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com 



■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 



September 2005 I The Independent 11 



[] 1ZE IT 



Tools You Can Use 



By David Aim 



Risky Business 

One of the most useful new 
tools comes from, of all places, a 
risk management and insurance 
firm. Last spring, the Chicago- 
based Aon corporation intro- 
duced an extensively updated 
version of its Global Filmmakers 
Map created for filmmakers whose 
projects take them into the darkest cor- 
ners of our increasingly dangerous plan- 
et. The map identifies 91 countries as 
"high risk" and details their respective 





2005 Risks in Global Filmmaking 



Global Filmmaker's Map 

threats. Though terrorist activity is a 
major category in this year's map, dis- 
ease, crime, political unrest, and absence 
of medical care are also duly noted. Visit 
www.aon.com for more information, 
and be safe! 

Take Back the Stock 

Who says grassroots campaigns have 
to be political? For anyone who's not 



Avalon Family Boom Poles 



quite ready to trade all their old metal 
reels in for a box of DV tapes, an effort 
on your behalf is afoot. This summer the 
Rural Route Film Festival, a New York- 
based organization that 
showcases work addressing 
rural life, launched an 
online petition pleading 
Kodak to continue produc- 
ing its Kodachrome Super 
8 film stock, whose popu- 
larity has rapidly dimin- 
ished with the digital revo- 
lution. Fortunately, this isn't 
politics: surely celluloid and 
code can co-exist in a non- 
partisan mediascape. To 
sign the petition, visit 
www.petitiononline.com/ 
k40/petition.html. 

Raise High the Boom Pole, 
Filmmakers 

The excuses for not shooting a 
costume drama atop Mount Everest are 
growing fewer by the minute. 
Compared to their film counterparts, 
DV cameras are feather-light. 
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for 
most of the other hardware that accom- 
panies a major shoot. But that's chang- 



ing too. This year, California-based 
filmmaking accessories firm K-Tek 
lightened the load with its new line of 
Avalon Aluminum Boom Poles, which 
range from 5'9" — when fully extend- 
ed — and 12.5 ounces to 9'2" and 23.5 
ounces. The poles can be collapsed to a 
quarter their extended length for easy 
storage and transport. And they're light 
on the wallet, too: the poles range from 
just $160 to $255. For more informa- 
tion, visit www.mklemme.com. 

Don't Wait for Miramax 

Everyone knows that making the 
movie's the easy part. Finding distribu- 
tion is where things get tricky. But as 
the indie rock mavens of the early 
1 990s proved, you don't need a big cor- 
poration to build a market, or even to 
deliver the goods. That said, while 
indie recorders could just throw an old 
cassette into a boom box, hit "record," 
dub infinite copies, and ship off the 
tapes — producing and distributing 
DVDs is a bit more complicated. 
Which is where Disc Makers, a New 
Jersey-based CD and DVD replication 
and packaging firm, comes in. Disc 
Makers will produce as few as 300 
copies of your project, complete with 
full-color covers, three-color on-disc 
printing, DVD cases, and poly wrap 
packaging — all for under $1,000. And 
for an extra $99, the company will 
even print 300 customized, full-color 
promotional posters. Getting your film 
seen might be up to you, but at least 
it'll be all dressed up and ready to go. 
For more info: www.discmakers.com. "k 



12 The Independent I September 2005 



PRODUCTION JOURNAL 



Making 
Room 

The highs and 
lows of directing 
a cheap thriller 

By Kyle Henry 



I'm the director of the low-budget psy- 
chological thriller Room (2005), which 
premiered at Sundance and had its 
international debut in the Directors 
Fortnight at Cannes in May. Room was 
produced by The 7th Floor along with Jim 
McKay and Michael Stipes C-Hundred 
Film Corp. Our four-week, twenty-four- 
day production was equally divided 
between two weeks in Texas and two 
weeks in New York City. The film centers 
on the mid-life crisis of a bingo hall 
employee and mother of two in her late 
40s who leaves her family to follow 
migraine-induced, debilitating visions. 
Lessons